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20 questions in 20 days: 19 Will Cooley make the team?

20 questions in 20 days: 19 Will Cooley make the team?

As we count down to the first game of the Redskins season, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to be looking at some of the big questions facing the team and attempting to look into their crystal balls and answer them.Question 20: Will Chris Cooley make the roster?The background: For years Cooley was one of the best players on the Redskins roster, an iron man, and a fan favorite. The latter description is still valid but the other two are things of the past. He has missed substantial parts of two of the last three season with injuries and hes no longer even the starting tight end. He would like to stay and play in Washington and the Redskins probably would like him on the team. But he carries a salary cap charge in excess of 6.2 million and thats a lot to pay for a reserve, especially on a team squeezed by a league-mandated cap penalty.Tandler: Part of me says that Cooley wouldnt be on the roster now if he wasnt going to make the team. On the other hand, maybe Cooley asked for a chance to make the team and was willing to risk suddenly becoming a free agent on the day of final cuts. If his roster spot is up in the air, it looks like he will have to beat out Logan Paulsen to make it and Paulsen is making a strong push to become the better option, especially given the disparity in salary between the two. Bottom line, I think the team and Cooleys agent sit down next week and see if they can agree on compensation more in line with the players expected role with team. If they can, Cooley will stay; if not, he goes.El-Bashir: If Cooley wasnt in the Redskins plans, they would have cut him long ago, freeing up cap space while giving him the chance to settle in with another team. They owe him that much given the loyalty hes shown and what hes meant to the fan base. So, in my mind, he stays. But not only for sentimental reasons; Cooley is also a safety blanket. Remember, Fred Davis is one slipup away from a year-long ban from the NFL. And fullback Darrel Young seems is having problems with the hamstring that cost him two games last season. Yeah, his cap hit (6.23 million) is high and, at 30, his mileage is higher. But Cooley's versatility, leadership and value off the field are priceless.20 questions in 20 days20 YesterdayWill Jammal Brown play this year?
19 TodayWill Chris Cooley make the team?
18 TomorrowCan Brandon Meriweather get he job done at safety?

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Preston Smith off to a strong start but Redskins want to see more

Preston Smith off to a strong start but Redskins want to see more

The end of Preston Smith’s 2015 rookie season set high expectations for his future. The outside linebacker racked up six sacks in the final four games including three in the Redskins’ division-clinching win in Philadelphia and one that got Aaron Rodgers for a safety in their wild-card playoff game. His eight sacks led all NFL rookies

But he wasn’t the player the team hoped he would be in 2016, at least not consistently. Smith got 4.5 sacks on the year. He had some dominant games like the one against the Vikings when he got two sacks and his first career interception. But he also disappeared for weeks at a time.

This past offseason the Redskins drafted outside linebacker Ryan Anderson in the second round and they re-signed Junior Galette. You always want to have good depth at the edge rushing position but it also appeared that the organization wanted to ensure that it would have alternatives if Smith’s sophomore slump extended into his third season.

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But so far, we have seen a Preston Smith who looks more like the one who finished up his rookie season than the often invisible 2016 version. He has two sacks in two games plus two quarterback hits and two hurries. While it’s very early, Smith is starting to live up to the potential he showed as a rookie.

His versatility has impressed Jay Gruden.

“I think he’s doing good against the run, number one,” he said. “That’s what we have to do. He’s got to set the point. You’ve got to set the point of attack, and he’s done a good job of that.”

Per Pro Football Focus, Smith has played 86 snaps. He has rushed the passer in most his plays, 46. But he also has defended the run 28 snaps and has dropped back into coverage 12 times. He has allowed one reception for six yards in those coverage snaps.

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The rest of Gruden’s answer to the question about Smith’s play was interesting.

And then when he’s asked to rush some, he’s done fine. I think he and Junior [Galette] had some good rushes. Junior got that critical holding call that pushed them back out of the red zone and forcing them into a field goal and obviously [Ryan] Kerrigan is doing his thing, so all three of those guys are doing a great job as far as giving a chance of pace. Preston is doing a good job. He can go inside, he can use his bull [rush] and he’s working on his get off. So I think he’s getting better and better.

Note that Gruden is nowhere near over the top in his praise of Smith. He brings in Galette and Kerrigan to turn the topic to the pass rush in general and uses words like “fine” and “good” to describe Smith’s play. Smith has been a source of frustration for the coaches as he often has relied on his natural ability rather than working to master the finer points of the job. The willingness to work on the details is often the difference between a talented player who just gets by and one who racks up 15-sack seasons, goes to Pro Bowls, and gets paid with large contracts.

Smith’s start is encouraging for the Redskins but Gruden and company are going to want to see a lot more before they dish out big compliments for him.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Fantasy Football -- Week 3 rankings

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USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Football -- Week 3 rankings

Just like that, two weeks are in the books. Not exactly high-level football to date, let's be honest.

Then again, fantasy football owners should largely be happy with the overall running back depth this season.

RELATED: FIRST LOOK AT REDSKINS VS. RAIDERS

Sleepers including Buck Allen, Tarik Cohen and Chris Carson have emerged and several teams have multiple viable options to date. Jordan Howard and Ezekiel Elliott owners aren't exactly thrilled at the moment. Understood. Hang tight, especially the Elliott faction, though I didn't love the Cowboys offense overall entering this season now that teams had a chance for a longer look at the Dak Prescott-led attack.

Meanwhile, passing game struggles with the Bengals, Giants and Redskins are a tad concerning, though A.J. Green and Odell Beckham owners should resist trade offers from those attempting to buy low.

What's going on with Alex Smith and the Chiefs actually seems sustainable considering the playmakers available -- Kareem Hunt, Tyreke Hill, Travis Kelce -- while the Eagles' heavy pass-run imbalance gives Carson Wentz weekly QB1 consideration. 

RELATED: WEEK 2 NFL POWER RANKINGS

Those with high-end tight ends are on edge after a rough Week 2 saw Greg Olsen exit with a multi-week foot injury while Rob Gronkowski and Jordan Reed owners hope their guys won't miss time.

Let's get to the Week 3 rankings and note those higher -- Carson Wentz, Jay Ajayi, Buck Allen, Chris Thompson, Kelvin Benjamin, J.J. Nelson, Hunter Henry  -- and lower than normal. Check back for updates or hit me up on Twitter -- @benstandig -- with questions. ​

Quarterbacks

1.  Aaron Rodgers, GB
 
2.  Tom Brady, NE
 
3.  Matt Ryan, ATL
 
4.  Cam Newton, CAR
 
5.  Derek Carr, OAK
 
6.  Matthew Stafford, DET
 
7.  Drew Brees, NO
 
8.  Ben Roethlisberger, PIT
 
9.  Russell Wilson, SEA
 
10.  Dak Prescott, DAL
 
11.  Marcus Mariota, TEN
 
12.  Carson Wentz, PHI

13.  Kirk Cousins, WAS
 
14.  Jameis Winston, TB
 
15.  Philip Rivers, LAC
 
16.  Alex Smith, KC
 
17.  Carson Palmer, ARI
 
18.  DeShone Kizer, CLE
 
19.  Sam Bradford, MIN
 
20.  Trevor Siemian, DEN
 
21.  Jay Cutler, MIA
 
22.  Andy Dalton, CIN
 
23.  Jacoby Brissett, IND
 
24.  Tyrod Taylor, BUF
 
25.  Eli Manning, NYG
 
26.  Joe Flacco, BAL
 
27.  Jared Goff, LAR
 
28.  Deshaun Watson, HOU
 
29.  Josh McCown, NYJ
 
30.  Blake Bortles, JAC
 
31.  Mike Glennon, CHI
 
32.  Brian Hoyer, SF

Running backs

1.  Le'Veon Bell, PIT
 
2.  Ezekiel Elliott, DAL
 
3.  Jay Ajayi, MIA
 
4.  Kareem Hunt, KC
 
5.  Todd Gurley, LAR
 
6.  LeSean McCoy, BUF
 
7.  Devonta Freeman, ATL
 
8.  Melvin Gordon, LAC
 
9.  Carlos Hyde, SF
 
10.  Ty Montgomery, GB
 
11.  C.J. Anderson, DEN
 
12.  Dalvin Cook, MIN
 
13.  Marshawn Lynch, OAK
 
14.  Leonard Fournette, JAC
 
15.  Mike Gillislee, NE
 
16.  Isaiah Crowell, CLE
 
17.  Christian McCaffrey, CAR
 
18.  Jonathan Stewart, CAR
 
19.  Lamar Miller, HOU
 
20.  Tarik Cohen, CHI
 
21.  Javorius Allen, BAL
 
22.  Ameer Abdullah, DET
 
23.  Chris Carson, SEA
 
24.  DeMarco Murray, TEN
 
25.  Jordan Howard, CHI
 
26.  Jacquizz Rodgers, TB
 
27.  Chris Thompson, WAS
 
28.  Tevin Coleman, ATL
 
29.  Mark Ingram, NO
 
30.  Frank Gore, IND
 
31.  Matt Forte, NYJ
 
32.  Samaje Perine, WAS
 
33.  Darren Sproles, PHI
 
34.  Joe Mixon, CIN
 
35.  Terrance West, BAL
 
36.  Bilal Powell, NYJ
 
37.  James White, NE
 
38.  Theo Riddick, DET
 
39.  Derrick Henry, TEN
 
40.  Chris Johnson, ARI
 
41.  Kerwynn Williams, ARI
 
42.  Duke Johnson, CLE
 
43.  Paul Perkins, NYG
 
44.  Giovani Bernard, CIN
 
45.  Alvin Kamara, NO
 
46.  Jamaal Charles, DEN
 
47.  Shane Vereen, NYG
 
48.  Jalen Richard, OAK
 
49.  D'Onta Foreman, HOU
 
50.  Marlon Mack, IND
 
51.  Wendell Smallwood, PHI
 
52.  Mike Tolbert, BUF
 
53.  Orleans Darkwa, NYG
 
54.  DeAndre Washington, OAK
 
55.  Chris Ivory, JAC
 
56.  Adrian Peterson, NO
 
57.  Andre Ellington, ARI
 
58.  Rex Burkhead, NE
 
59.  LeGarrette Blount, PHI
 
60.  Matt Breida, SF

Wide receivers

1.  Antonio Brown, PIT
 
2.  Julio Jones, ATL
 
3.  A.J. Green, CIN
 
4.  Mike Evans, TB
 
5.  Amari Cooper, OAK
 
6.  Michael Crabtree, OAK
 
7.  Michael Thomas, NO
 
8.  Kelvin Benjamin, CAR
 
9.  Brandin Cooks, NE
 
10.  Doug Baldwin, SEA
 
11.  Keenan Allen, LAC
 
12.  Davante Adams, GB
 
13.  Demaryius Thomas, DEN
 
14.  Golden Tate, DET
 
15.  Dez Bryant, DAL
 
16.  Larry Fitzgerald, ARI
 
17.  DeAndre Hopkins, HOU
 
18.  Tyreek Hill, KC
 
19.  Alshon Jeffery, PHI
 
20.  Emmanuel Sanders, DEN
 
21.  Odell Beckham Jr., NYG
 
22.  Stefon Diggs, MIN
 
23.  Devante Parker, MIA
 
24.  Terrelle Pryor, WAS
 
25.  Randall Cobb, GB
 
26.  J.J. Nelson, ARI
 
27.  Adam Thielen, MIN
 
28.  Martavis Bryant, PIT
 
29.  Pierre Garcon, SF
 
30.  Jarvis Landry, MIA
 
31.  Jamison Crowder, WAS
 
32.  T.Y. Hilton, IND
 
33.  Chris Hogan, NE
 
34.  Jeremy Maclin, BAL
 
35.  Tyrell Williams, LAC
 
36.  Sammy Watkins, LAR
 
37.  DeSean Jackson, TB
 
38.  Allen Hurns, JAC
 
39.  Marqise Lee, JAC
 
40.  Rishard Matthews, TEN
 
41.  Jermaine Kearse, NYJ
 
42.  Cooper Kupp, LAR
 
43.  Marvin Jones, DET
 
44.  Devin Funchess, CAR
 
45.  Kenny Golladay, DET
 
46.  Ted Ginn, NO
 
47.  Rashard Higgins, CLE
 
48.  Sterling Shepard, NYG
 
49.  Mohamed Sanu, ATL
 
50.  Eric Decker, TEN
 
51.  Tyler Lockett, SEA
 
52.  Kendall Wright, CHI
 
53.  Danny Amendola, NE
 
54.  Jaron Brown, ARI
 
55.  Brandon Marshall, NYG
 
56.  Corey Davis, TEN
 
57.  Robby Anderson, NYJ
 
58.  Donte Moncrief, IND
 
59.  Jordan Matthews, BUF
 
60.  Mike Wallace, BAL
 
61.  Brandon Coleman, NO
 
62.  Kenny Stills, MIA
 
63.  Cole Beasley, DAL
 
64.  Nelson Agholor, PHI
 
65.  Marquise Goodwin, SF

Tight ends

1.  Rob Gronkowski, NE
 
2.  Travis Kelce, KC
 
3.  Zach Ertz, PHI
 
4.  Jordan Reed, WAS
 
5.  Kyle Rudolph, MIN
 
6.  Delanie Walker, TEN
 
7.  Martellus Bennett, GB
 
8.  Eric Ebron, DET
 
9.  Jimmy Graham, SEA
 
10.  Coby Fleener, NO
 
11.  Jared Cook, OAK
 
12.  Hunter Henry, LAC
 
13.  Jason Witten, DAL
 
14.  Jack Doyle, IND
 
15.  Austin Hooper, ATL
 
16.  Charles Clay, BUF
 
17.  Evan Engram, NYG
 
18.  Tyler Eifert, CIN
 
19.  Julius Thomas, MIA
 
20.  Zach Miller, CHI
 
21.  Austin Seferian-Jenkins, NYJ
 
22.  Cameron Brate, TB
 
23.  Ed Dickson, CAR
 
24.  Jesse James, PIT
 
25.  Benjamin Watson, BAL

Kickers

1.  Matt Bryant, ATL
 
2.  Stephen Gostkowski, NE
 
3.  Justin Tucker, BAL
 
4.  Mason Crosby, GB
 
5.  Matt Prater, DET
 
6.  Dan Bailey, DAL
 
7.  Giorgio Tavecchio, OAK
 
8.  Graham Gano, CAR
 
9.  Cairo Santos, KC
 
10.  Chris Boswell, PIT
 
11.  Dustin Hopkins, WAS
 
12.  Blair Walsh, SEA
 
13.  Will Lutz, NO
 
14.  Phil Dawson, ARI
 
15.  Brandon McManus, DEN
 
16.  Adam Vinatieri, IND
 
17.  Cody Parkey, MIA
 
18.  Nick Folk, TB
 
19.  Ryan Succop, TEN
 
20.  Younghoe Koo, LAC

Defenses

1.  Baltimore Ravens, BAL
 
2.  Denver Broncos, DEN
 
3.  Pittsburgh Steelers, PIT
 
4.  Los Angeles Rams, LAR
 
5.  Seattle Seahawks, SEA
 
6.  Philadelphia Eagles, PHI
 
7.  Miami Dolphins, MIA
 
8.  Green Bay Packers, GB
 
9.  New England Patriots, NE
 
10.  Kansas City Chiefs, KC
 
11.  Jacksonville Jaguars, JAC
 
12.  Minnesota Vikings, MIN
 
13.  Arizona Cardinals, ARI
 
14.  Tennessee Titans, TEN
 
15.  New York Giants, NYG
 
16.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers, TB
 
17.  Carolina Panthers, CAR
 
18.  Cleveland Browns, CLE
 
19.  Oakland Raiders, OAK
 
20.  Houston Texans, HOU