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Fan questions: How do you stop the Cowboys?

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Fan questions: How do you stop the Cowboys?

This week I got your questions not only from Twitter but also from the Real Redskins Facebook page (go there to Like it) for the first time. Since the Facebook aspect is new we'll start from there.

Well, Troy, nothing has been covered in the media because nothing is happening. What many fans don't seem to realize is that Jackson is on his third strike in the NFL's substance abuse process. He served suspensions of four games and then one year while he was with the Bucs. His current suspension is indefinite. Jackson was eligible to apply for reinstatement after a year but the NFL is under no obligation to reinstate him or even hear his case. So there is no news and there won't be until the league decides that he has been out long enough to get the message. A year apparently didn't do it last time so maybe they figure he needs to sit out longer this time. When something happens, you'll hear about it. But there is no point in the media "reporting" that nothing is new on a regular basis.
@Rich_TandlerCSN if the #Redskins face a Dallas team like the one who just played Denver, How will they be able to stop them? #RedskinsTalk

— Don (@don1964a) October 7, 2013
The simple answer is they won't be able to stop the Cowboys if they play like they did Sunday. But it's not certain that they will play like that. I went over a lot of the reasons in my post yesterday but the simplest way to look at it is that a week ago Sunday the Dallas offense put up 14 points against a Chargers defense that is ranked 27th. The Cowboys are not exactly a model of consistency and it remains to be seen if they can put up two stellar performances in a row.

The key against Romo is to mix things up. Last year they brought anywhere from three to seven rushers after him. There will be plenty of blitz packages and times they drop eight back into coverage in either a zone or a single high safety look. It will very by down, distance, game situation and Jim Haslett's gut feeling.
@Rich_TandlerCSN Are the Skins secondary woes primarily the culprit of poor CB play or safety play? #RedskinsTalk

— Derek Childress (@Poker_Donkey) October 7, 2013
If I had to pick one factor, I'd say that the secondary woes are due to poor tackling. That issue appears to affect primarily the safeties but that's only because they usually make more tackle attempts. It's across the board. I think it's something that will work its way out, the sooner the better. But to get back to your question, I don't think the corners are markedly less talented than the safeties or vice versa. The whole secondary just needs to get its act together when it comes to getting the guy with the ball to the ground.

Sometimes it takes the rest of the media world a while to catch up to what's being written here so I'm used to that (pardon the humble brag). But the fact of the matter with Griffin is that we just don't know. It would surprise me if he didn't continue to improve from week to week. Whether or not he will make a "leap" like Peterson, who went from averaging 97 yards per game in the first half of the season to averaging 165 in the last eight games remains to be seen. The media can't watch practice so we have no way of knowing how he is doing during the week. We find out during the games just like everyone else. My gut is that we'll see more steady progress. I don't see him all of a sudden breaking out this Sunday and playing like he did in Dallas on Thanksgiving. I do think he'll play better than he did against Oakland and that could be good enough to win.

It's hard to tell how much the brace is really affecting Griffin. My guess is that it hampers him some but not nearly as much as many think it does. Remember Griffin wore one his junior year at Baylor and it didn't affect him much then. He was asked in training camp if he would wear it all year and he said he would. That's all we have to go on.

This sounds a lot like a call to "fire Haz, go back to the 4-3" as a solution to the Redskins' defensive woes. I don't know if you were around for the decade of the 90's and early 00's when the team went through a parade of defensive coordinators and regular scheme changes. The result was a consistently bad defense that held the team back. The revolving door ended when Gregg Williams arrived in 2004 and they had a top 10 defense three out of his four years. Maybe they can find another Williams, maybe they can't. Perhaps there is a better option out there than Haslett but there are no sure things. Change for the sake of change rarely yields good results. The same applies to the defensive alignment. Personally, I would not look forward to another two years of acquiring the right personnel for a new alignment and going through the adjustment pains when the existing scheme will work fine if executed properly.

That's it for today. You don't have to wait for a call for questions to ask me something; hit me up anytime on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN or on the Real Redskins Facebook page.

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Need to Know: Redskins pre-camp 53-man roster projection, offense

Need to Know: Redskins pre-camp 53-man roster projection, offense

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 24, three days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 204 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 48 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 17
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 26
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 41

Redskins roster projection—offense

The Redskins strap it up and start the battle for roster spots in earnest in just three days. Some are locks, others are hoping to hang on. Here is my prediction of the roster will shake out along with players who are on the bubble. The offense is up today, the defense tomorrow.

Players I have making the roster who are new to the organization in 2017 are in italics. Rookies are also underlined.

Quarterback (3)

Starter: Kirk Cousins
Backups: Colt McCoy, Nate Sudfeld

Cousins and the team didn’t agree on the contract but that changes nothing for 2017. The elimination of two-a-day practices makes a fourth “camp arm” QB unnecessary so these three will handle all the snaps from now until when the season ends.   

Running backs (3)

Starter: Rob Kelley
Backups: Samaje Perine, Chris Thompson

Bubble: Mack Brown, Keith Marshall

Kelley skipped the drive-through window meals during the offseason, switching to a healthier diet to get himself in better shape. He will need to be strong to hold off Perine, who will make a push for playing time. Brown could be on or off depending on numbers elsewhere on the roster. If Marshall can stay healthy, he could force his way into the picture but the health is a big “if”.

Wide receivers (6)

Starters: Josh Doctson, Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder (slot)
Backups: Maurice Harris, Ryan Grant, Robert Davis

Bubble: Brian Quick

I’m not sure if Grant, who caught nine passes while playing in all 16 games last year, should be a lock but it appears that he is. Davis is a projection; he has a lot to learn but if he is showing significant progress he could push out the veteran Quick, who was not impressive during the offseason practices.    

Tight ends (4)

Starter: Jordan Reed
Backups: Vernon Davis, Niles Paul, Jeremy Sprinkle

Bubble: Derek Carrier

Paul and Sprinkle could be considered on the bubble as well. The normal allowance is for three tight ends on the 53-man roster. Reed and Davis are locks, they need Paul for special teams, and Sprinkle is slated to be the blocking tight end. But Sprinkle needs to add a lot of polish to his game and Paul has the injury bug to fight. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Offensive line (9)

Starters (left to right): Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses
Backups: Ty Nsekhe, Arie Kouandjio, Vinston Painter, Chase Roullier

Bubble: John Kling

The starters are locked in unless Kouandjio can come up with a huge camp and push Lauvao out of the starting job. Roullier could be the backup center but if he’s not ready the Redskins could look for a veteran off the waiver wire for that spot.

Offensive breakdown: 25 players, four rookies, a total of five new to the Redskins.

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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The seven best undrafted free agent signings the Redskins have made since 2010

The seven best undrafted free agent signings the Redskins have made since 2010

Every NFL training camp is different, but there are a few consistent things you can count on happening at each one each year.

At some point, for example, a star will say that he's "just excited to hit a guy wearing a different colored jersey" after about a week of practicing against his teammates. Also on the list: a coach will tell reporters that his defense plans on being more aggressive and hopes to create more turnovers in the regular season.

One of the more pleasant camp traditions, meanwhile, is that undrafted rookie who goes from stand-in to stand out and makes the team by impressing in drills and preseason contests.

But while there will be plenty of time in the coming weeks for trying to figure out who'll do that for the Redskins in 2017, let's instead look back at a handful of the players who've already accomplished that in the past with Washington. Here are the seven best undrafted free agents the franchise has unearthed since 2010.

MORE: PLAYING OVER/UNDER WITH KEY STATS FOR KIRK COUSINS IN 2017

Logan Paulsen (2010)

No one will ever mistake Logan Paulsen's film for Rob Gronkowski's, but the former UCLA Bruin held down the third tight end spot for the Redskins from 2010-2014.

His two best years came in 2012 and 2013, where he posted 25 and 28 catches respectively, scored four total times and was on the receiving end of this magical fourth-down pass from Robert Griffin III against the Giants, a play that might've just been the peak of Griffin's rookie year. Now 30, Paulsen is reuniting with Kyle Shanahan out in San Francisco, continuing to exceed expectations and extending what's been a fruitful NFL career.

Will Compton (2013)

Will Compton's made a steady climb up Washington's roster since entering the league as a free agent linebacker out of Nebraska.

He was cut in his first season back in 2013 but latched onto the practice squad. He eventually debuted near the end of 2013, though, and made the 53-man squad the next go-round. 2015 was when he first started playing regularly, then last year he started 15 contests while also serving as a captain.

In 2017, he'll have to compete with Zach Brown and Mason Foster for a starting gig, but he figures to play plenty no matter the outcome and he's one of Jay Gruden's most trusted defenders. Not bad for a guy who has admitted he "wasn't confident" as a rookie:

Houston Bates (2015)

Special teams often is the avenue a college free agent has to take to make a roster, and Houston Bates is an example of one who's been there, done that. He's appeared in 24 games for the Redskins in his first two NFL campaigns and will look to recover from a torn ACL he suffered last December so he can add to that total in year three.

Before that injury, he was Washington's most active special teams player with 292 snaps in 14 contests.

Quinton Dunbar (2015)

Quinton Dunbar has not only overcome being an undrafted free agent; the former Florida Gator has also made the successful transition from wide receiver to cornerback, too.

Like his classmate Bates, Dunbar has participated often in 2015 and 2016, and like Paulsen, his biggest moments have come against the Giants. As a first-year pro, he picked off Eli Manning in the end zone to the delight of a raucous FedExField crowd, and as a sophomore, he helped complete a risky fake punt and also notched another (absolutely insane) INT in New York:

Rob Kelley (2016)

This offseason, Jay Gruden joked that Rob Kelley has worked his way up from "ninth-string" to starter. He laughed as he said it, but it may not have been that big of an exaggeration.

Kelley never rushed for more than 420 yards at Tulane, but he ripped off 704 last year for the 'Skins. Now he's the top option in a talented backfield, and while Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson are nipping at his heels for carries, Gruden has repeatedly said how much he loves Kelley. He'll be fed plenty in 2017.

Anthony Lanier (2016)

Anthony Lanier's on this list not for what he's done, but for what he's projected to do. Gruden uses not one but two really's to describe how excited he is about Lanier, and a couple of months of working with assistant Jim Tomsula might be all the lineman needs to make the jump from a project to a problem. 

Maurice Harris (2016)

Last on the list is a receiver who displayed sure hands and a knack for converting third downs in limited action last year. Maurice Harris now looks like he'll be an early option off the bench in Gruden's offense and should see the field far more often than he did in the second half of 2016.

You may not be fully sold on Harris, but it sounds like his teammates are, so don't be surprised if he breaks out and develops into another option for Kirk Cousins:

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