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Jason Witten is leaving Monday Night Football to un-retire and play for the Cowboys

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Jason Witten is leaving Monday Night Football to un-retire and play for the Cowboys

It may not come as a surprise to hear the news that Jason Witten will not return to the Monday Night Football booth following his very first season as a color commentator.

The big surprise, as we learned Thursday afternoon, is that the iconic tight end is coming out of retirement to return to the Dallas Cowboys.

“The fire inside of me to compete and play this game is just burning too strong,” Witten said in an official statement. “This team has a great group of rising young stars, and I want to help them make a run at a championship."

The 11-time Pro Bowler announced his retirement following the 2017 NFL season. In May 2018, Witten officially retired from the NFL and announced his new position as color commentator on ESPN's Monday Night Football.

His lone season in the broadcast booth was met with less than stellar reviews from fans and media pundits. In his statement announcing his return to football, Witten was quick to point that his decision was on the merits of passion for football, and not his performance in the booth.

"This was completely my decision, and I am very comfortable with it. I’m looking forward to getting back in the dirt.”

Witten's initial retirement was met with a sigh of relief from Redskins fans. Witten tormented the Burgundy & Gold, being on the winning side 20 times in 30 games. Witten racked up 129 catches for 1,446 yards and nine touchdowns against the Redskins alone.

His dominance over the Redskins was so apparent, we made a video about him back in May when he decided to hang up the cleats. 

The 2019 NFL season will be the 16th of Witten's professional football career.

The 2003 draft pick out of Tennessee appeared in 239 of 240 games for the Cowboys, with 1,152 receptions for 12,448 yards and 68 touchdowns.

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Five snap counts and judgments from Redskins' loss at Cowboys

Five snap counts and judgments from Redskins' loss at Cowboys

Time for our weekly review of the Washington Redskins snap counts, plus some big picture after the 31-23 Week 12 road loss at Dallas. 

♦ Matt Ioannidis, now a clear frontline option along the defensive line, played only 20 snaps after suffering a lower-leg injury. His absence thrust rookie Tim Settle into action. The former Virginia Tech standout only received 26 snaps from Weeks 3-11, but played 21 against the Cowboys – and he more than held up. According to the graders at Pro Football Focus, Settle rated as Washington’s top defender after finishing with three tackles including one for loss.

Settle played two more snaps than veteran Stacy McGee. Both could receive more snaps Monday night at Philadelphia If Ioannidis isn’t ready. Jay Gruden said Friday that the third-year lineman “landed on his calf and it’s bruised right now, a little bit of swelling.”

♦ Trey Quinn (73 percent) out-snapped Maurice Harris (57 percent) for the second consecutive game since the rookie returned from the injured reserve list. The real intrigue is less with this direct competition and more about Quinn providing the Redskins with an alternative for Jamison Crowder. The usual starting slot receiver is a 2019 free agent after earning $1.9 million this season.

Quinn, the final pick in the entire 2018 NFL Draft, signed a four-year, $2.5 million contract. He would only earn $750,000 in his fourth and final season on his rookie deal. Whether the front office and coaching staff would feel comfortable going from Crowder to Quinn is another story, but the monies involved are a major factor.

Crowder (ankle) hasn’t played since Oct. 8. Meanwhile the rookie scored his first career touchdown Thursday, though he only averaged 5.2 yards on his five receptions, and served as the punt returner.

“I was impressed with Trey and his competitive spirit both in the return game and obviously at receiver and blocking,” Gruden said. “He is a tough guy. I like him."

♦ Kapri Bibbs didn’t make the Week 1 roster despite a strong training camp and preseason. Injuries elsewhere eventually elevated him from the practice squad and into the rotation. Another rise came Thursday with Adrian Peterson dinged in game and the Redskins trailing. 

Bibbs played a season-high 56 percent of the snaps, most of any running back on the team, and had 36 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on six touches.

That includes Byron Marshall, who beat out Bibbs for a final spot even with an injury that kept him sidelined for Week 1 and eventually landed him on IR. In his second game since rejoining the active roster, Marshall only played one snap.

♦ The decision to go with three rookies at cornerback is starting to become problematic. Quinton Dunbar played only 26 snaps over the previous five weeks, but went for 61 (87 percent) against Dallas. That sounds like good news, but Dunbar’s leg nerve injury flared up as the game progressed, and yet he remained in the game. Dunbar and Fabian Moreau allowed a combined eight catches on 11 targets for 193 yards and two TDs, per PFF.

"I think as the game went on [the injury] must have gotten a little bit worse,” Gruden said. “I can’t speak for Quinton right now. I know he didn’t finish the game very well and I know he was in some pain there in the very end.”

One has to think the Redskins would have gone with another cornerback if they felt comfortable with their other options. Greg Stroman and Danny Johnson have taken a whirl with the starting defense at times this season and showed good form at times. Stroman received one snap Thursday and Johnson only played on special teams. Adonis Alexander was inactive. Going with the kids works long-term. It's seemingly limiting options now as the Redskins pursue the NFC East title.

♦ Sign of the season: In terms of snap percentages, Tony Bergstrom (62.06), Harris (50.0) and Jeremy Sprinkle (29.27) have been on the field more than Crowder (28.05) and Chris Thompson (23.58). 

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Amari Cooper mocked Markelle Fultz after scoring on Redskins. Fultz thought it was hilarious.

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Amari Cooper mocked Markelle Fultz after scoring on Redskins. Fultz thought it was hilarious.

2018 NFL touchdown celebrations are a combination of captivating, creative, goofy and entertaining. 

The Thanksgiving Thursday slate of games proved to be no exception of that. 

In the third quarter of Redskins-Cowboys, Amari Cooper mocked Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz by imititating his recent bizarre free throw shooting routine. 

What's even more bizarre? Fultz didn't seem to mind the gesture. 

Fultz, who is receiving treatment for his nagging right wrist, has been struggling from the free throw line. Things really hit the fan during this odd shooting hitch in a Nov. 12 against Miami. 

Cooper hauled in eight passes from Dak Prescott for 180 yards and two touchdowns en route to a 31-23 Cowboys win. 

The former Alabama standout was traded to Dallas from Oakland in October for a future first-round draft pick. 

But why did an NFL receiver mock an NBA guard on Thanksgiving? This, we may never know. 

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