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Cowboys turn quickly to Redskins, RG3's visit

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Cowboys turn quickly to Redskins, RG3's visit

IRVING, Texas (AP) Dallas played a long game, and now faces a short week.

And Washington's Robert Griffin III is on his way in for the most appropriate of Thanksgiving games - Cowboys vs. Redskins, the first NFL game in Texas for the Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor.

It's safe to say the sigh of relief was brief for Dallas after Sunday's 23-20 overtime win over last-place Cleveland.

``We are going to enjoy this one for another 10 minutes or so and then get on to the Redskins,'' Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said after the game.

There are several issues for the Cowboys to consider in the roughly 96 hours between Dan Bailey's winning field goal in overtime and the kickoff against the Redskins.

Start with the offensive line, which essentially ended up with three replacements against the Browns after left tackle Tyron Smith injured an ankle early and didn't return. Tony Romo absorbed a career-high seven sacks, and a fumble on one of them triggered a wild ending that the Cowboys were fortunate to file under ``happy.''

Smith said Monday he had a high ankle sprain and would be a game-time decision. He says he played through the injury once in college at USC. If the former first-round pick isn't back, undrafted free agent Jermey Parnell, a third-year player, is likely to fill in again.

With Phil Costa and Ryan Cook out, Mackenzy Bernadeau had to move from guard to center, where he made his first start for Dallas against Cleveland. Derrick Dockery took Bernadeau's spot at right guard.

``It's just the nature of it, and you have to be able to just plug the next guy in and come up with the right combination and move on and find some things that those guys are able to do well enough to execute ball plays,'' Garrett said Monday. ``It was a challenge for us last week going into the game. It was more of a challenge during the game. And it'll be a challenge this week as we get ready for the Redskins.''

Another part of Romo's problem Sunday was he didn't have much help from the running game. The Cowboys had just 17 yards rushing at halftime - all by Felix Jones - and 68 for the game. Jones missed some time after re-injuring his knee and didn't play in overtime. He was a limited participant in practice Monday.

DeMarco Murray didn't practice, but Garrett didn't rule out his return from a five-game absence with a sprained foot. If Jones and Murray can't play, undrafted rookie Lance Dunbar could end up with most of the carries against the Redskins. After Dallas had eight straight pass plays on its first overtime possession, Dunbar did get three carries on the winning drive, including a 7-yard run that put the Cowboys in field goal range.

``He had a few plays I had to get on him a little bit. It was just a couple of small mistakes,'' Romo said of Dunbar. ``I told him afterward, `We will correct these. We'll get them right but we have to lock in.' The kid has some ability and he showed that today.''

The Cowboys are 1-1 against rookie quarterbacks who began the season as starters as they prepare to face Griffin. They lost badly to Seattle and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson in Week 2 and were headed in the same direction against Brandon Weeden and the Browns.

Weeden led three straight scoring drives as Cleveland built a 13-0 halftime lead, and he completed five straight passes late in the fourth quarter, including a 17-yard touchdown to Benjamin Watson that put the Browns ahead 20-17 with 1:07 remaining.

Griffin was 14 of 15 for 200 yards with four touchdowns in a 31-6 victory over the Eagles.

``You can see that as the season progresses that they grow,'' Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr said. ``They're still learning the game as rookies, but at the same time they have a lot of upside. They have a lot of ability to go out there and lead their teams.''

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Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter athttps://twitter.com/lschuylerd

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Jay Gruden views Chris Thompson as the NFL's best third-down running back

Jay Gruden views Chris Thompson as the NFL's best third-down running back

In 2016, Chris Thompson simply needed to prove to Jay Gruden that he could handle 16 NFL games.

Now, looking ahead to 2017, the fifth-year running back hopes to show his head coach he can shoulder 16 NFL games and a larger workload.

"I have a feeling that I might get a little more this year," Thompson said Monday at the Redskins Charitable Golf Foundation. "[Gruden] knows now that I'm healthy and I can stay healthy, which I think that was one of his biggest concerns. So now he sees that I can handle the load, I think that I'll get a lot more opportunities this year."

Last season was by far the best in the 26-year-old's career. He played a full slate of games after playing in just 19 over his first three seasons combined, and he set career highs in rushing attempts (68), yards (356), receptions (49), receiving yards (349) and total touchdowns (5).

MORE REDSKINS: TEAM IS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE WITH PLANS FOR NEW STADIUM

He also held up well in pass protection, a key duty for him as the team's third-down running back. And it's all of those qualities — being able to contribute on handoffs and with catches while also providing help in keeping Kirk Cousins upright — that make him an excellent fit for a popular NFL duty.

The most excellent in that duty, actually, if you ask Gruden. 

"I think Chris Thompson's role is big," he said. "When you're talking about third downs, that's the most important down in football. There's nobody better as a third-down back in my opinion than Chris. He's got a huge role on this football team." 

Gruden went on to indicate that an increase in Thompson's responsibilities is likely coming, though No. 25 will still do the majority of his work when the offense needs him most.

"Whether he does some more stuff on first- and second-down will be determined," he said. "I'm sure he will. But he's so valuable on third-down that I gotta keep him in that role for now."

A 2013 fifth-round pick who came into the league with a history of injuries, Thompson has now fully gained the trust of his coaches and teammates. The 5-foot-8 running back may be small in stature, but the Redskins know he's not small in importance.  

RELATED: RANKING THE TOP ROOKIE QBS FOR FANTASY FOOTBALL

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Fantasy football: Ranking the top eight rookie quarterbacks in 2017

Fantasy football: Ranking the top eight rookie quarterbacks in 2017

Rookie camps are in the books as teams now move to organized team activities. Does that mean it's too early for fantasy football rankings? 

Probably, but seeing as the rookies are new to the scene, we might as well start projecting where and how they fit. 

CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S 2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ROOKIE QB RANKINGS

Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, Sterling Shepard and Michael Thomas were among the rookies who produced and then some in 2016.

Based on the early rounds of the 2017 NFL draft, there’s hope for even more first-year standouts.  

Starting with the Bears selecting quarterback Mitch Trubisky second overall, 19 skill players were drafted in the first and second round.

That includes fellow first-round quarterback selections Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Several sleeper candidates followed. 

Here’s my look at the Elite Eight quarterbacks with the 2017 fantasy football season -- and beyond -- in mind.

CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S 2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ROOKIE QB RANKINGS

2017 Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings:

Running Backs - No. 1, Leonard Fournette, Jaguars

* Wide receivers - No. 1, Corey Davis, Titans