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20 questions in 20 days: 18 Can Meriweather plug the hole at safety?

20 questions in 20 days: 18 Can Meriweather plug the hole at safety?

As we count down to the firstgame of the Redskins season, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to belooking at some of the big questions facing the team and attempting to lookinto their crystal balls and answer them. Question 18: Can Brandon Meriweather get the job done at strongsafety?The background: Just over a year ago, it looked like Meriweatherwas a star on the rise. At age 27 he was coming off of back-to-back Pro Bowlappearances with the Patriots. But Bill Belichick decided that he wasnt in theteams plans and he was released at the end of training camp. The Bears pickedhim up, started him for four games and then benched him. They let him go thisspring and the Redskins became his third NFL team in the past calendar year.Can two teams trash become the third teams treasure?Tandler: The Redskins say that Meriweather was not a fit inChicagos Cover 2 defensive scheme and that his skills are better suited totheir defense. Observation of Meriweather during practice indicates that theRedskins may be right. He is much more comfortable lining up close to the lineof scrimmage and moving forward at the snap rather than staying back and movinglaterally or backwards. The key will be keeping Meriweather in his comfortzone. They will best utilize him by having him blitz, play the short zone, or setthe edge in run defense. If they rely on him to be the last line of defenseagainst deep passes very often, they are asking for trouble. Meriweather can bea solid player if he used in the right role in the right situations.El-Bashir: In limited action this preseason, it can be argued thatMeriweathers been the Redskins most active defensive back. Having playedroughly two quarters, hes been in on five tackles and defended a pass. Butthere are legitimate concerns about his health after he suffered a left kneeinjury Saturday in Chicago that neither the team nor the player has beenforthcoming about. Weve been told that surgery is not required and he wontsuit up the remainder of this preseason. But when will he return? UntilMeriweather shows hes 100-percent recovered, it might be wise to reservejudgment on the impact hell have this season, particularly early. But amiduncertainty, we do know this much: given the Redskins struggles last season atsafety, theres only direction it can go in 2012.20 questions in 20 days20 Aug.20WillJammal Brown play this year?
19 YesterdayWillChris Cooley make the team?
18 TodayCan Brandon Meriweather get he job done at safety?
17 TomorrowIs Garon a No. 1 receiver?

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Why Trent Williams is the one holding the leverage when it comes to his situation with the Redskins

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Why Trent Williams is the one holding the leverage when it comes to his situation with the Redskins

Trent Williams wasn't at the Redskins' mandatory June minicamp or any of their OTA sessions, either, with reports suggesting he wants more money, is upset with the organization's medical staff or a combination of the two.

But even by not attending any offseason practice, Williams showed the Redskins something very important.

If he's not at left tackle for the team in 2019, the entire offense might fail. Not having their anchor on the left side could be an anchor to the whole campaign.

Even in sessions where the defensive line wasn't playing with full ferocity, they often times had no problems getting into the faces of Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum. Jay Gruden absolutely noticed. It was impossible not to.

Yes, it's necessary to point out Williams wasn't the only one missing up front. In fact, the collection was basically made up of second-stringers.

However, Morgan Moses, Brandon Scherff and Chase Roullier are all slated to be back when meaningful football resumes. Gruden, the passers and the running backs don't have to worry about them.

Yet they should all be quite petrified at the thought of not having No. 71 around.

A massive reason why is because of the present choices behind him. Ereck Flowers was brought in to try and be used at left guard, but with Williams absent, he saw heavy action on the outside. The results reminded everyone there of why he's being moved to the interior.

Aside from Flowers, the 'Skins have players like Tyler Catalina and Timon Parris on the roster. They fared better than Flowers when the media was able to watch practices in Ashburn, but they're nowhere close to being starting-caliber options, let alone ready to serve as replacements for one of the franchise's top contributors of the 2000s.  

That's a major factor into why it feels like Williams holds the leverage in his standoff with the Burgundy and Gold. There are other factors as well.

Whether or not Haskins wins the job coming out of Richmond remains to be seen. With that being said, the 15th overall pick will eventually take over as signal caller, and figures to take over for the long-term future. Haskins' early career beginning with someone other than Williams protecting him is the opposite of ideal.

Then, there's the fact that many decision makers believe the Redskins are "close" to breaking through. That step forward will not happen if Williams isn't suiting up.

Now, the team could just wait Williams out and see if he's really committed to the reported "vow" he's taken to never play in DC again. Would he still be content to not show up once he starts losing out on hefty game checks?

That's something the front office may decide to find out, and that route could easily force Williams into a place where he has to make the first move. It's a card they're holding, and a key card at that.

But still, the Redskins have a head coach who badly needs to succeed starting in September, an offense predicated on running the ball, a prized young QB about to embark on his NFL life and leaders up top who could use positive results on the field.

All of that is largely why, in his Tuesday story, JP Finlay wrote that perhaps improving Williams' contract and getting him back in the locker room appears to be how this'll all play out.

The storyline this offseason absolutely wasn't supposed to be about a battle between the Redskins and Trent Williams, but as of now, that's the topic everyone's talking about. It's now in Washington's best interest to ensure it doesn't carry over beyond Week 1.

For that to happen, it seems like the team will have to appease the player. That's not common in the NFL, but not many players find themselves with the leverage Williams possesses.  


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Eagles will open just one training camp practice to fans, and charge them

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Eagles will open just one training camp practice to fans, and charge them

Following a growing trend, the Philadelphia Eagles cut fan access at training camp way back. Way, way back actually. 

The Eagles will open just one training camp practice to the public, and what's more, the team will charge fans to watch. To watch the Eagles lone public training camp session will cost $10, but it's important to note that the proceeds will go the Eagles Autism Challenge, per an ESPN report.

Raising money for charity is admirable. That's not a debate. 

Still, Philadelphia might be on the forefront of an NFL wide trend that significantly limits fan access to teams during training camp. Last year, the Eagles held two open practices at Lincoln Financial Field that fans could attend. This year, it's just one, and by putting it at their home stadium changes the atmosphere too. For some fans, it might be great to get to see the stadium without paying game day prices, but for others, the up-close access of training camp will be greatly missed. 

The Redskins were widely mocked nearly 20 years ago when they moved training camp sessions to their practice facility in Ashburn and charged to watch the practices. The outcry was deserved, not to mention that by charging to watch practice allowed other team's scouts to attend. The NFL changed a rule in 2017 that opposing scouts are not allowed to watch a team's practice regardless of cost. 

Other teams around the league are slowly pulling away from the traditional training camp experience of going away for a few weeks of practice. In the NFC East, the Eagles and Giants hold their camps at their facilities while the Redskins and Cowboys travel. Dallas does their training camp in Oxnard, California, while the 'Skins go to Richmond. 

Washington's deal with the city of Richmond expires after training camp in 2020. It will be interesting to see what happens with the Redskins training camp practices after that, especially as the team wants a new stadium. Any new stadium would probably include facilities to hold training camp practices, similar to the Giants in New Jersey. Additionally, the promise of training camp practices could be part of the negotiations for a new stadium.