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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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10 Questions for 10 Days: After Josh Norman, what's the plan at cornerback?

10 Questions for 10 Days: After Josh Norman, what's the plan at cornerback?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold before the team heads to Richmond. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

No. 7: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

No. 6: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

No. 5: What can the Redskins expect from Derrius Guice?

No. 4: After Josh Norman, what's the plan at cornerback?

In a way, the Redskins are quite lucky. Not every team in the NFL has an unequivocal No. 1 corner. Washington has that in Josh Norman

His interception numbers in 2017 did not get the job done, but he still played quite well. Norman got targeted significantly less than the league average, which means NFL quarterbacks actively chose not to mess with former All Pro. 

Still, Norman needs more interceptions than last year. He grabbed none, and he will admit that he must create more turnovers. 

Regardless, Norman is not the Redskins question mark at cornerback. What happens after Norman is the question. 

Washington moved quick this offseason to lock up Quinton Dunbar off restricted free agency. Dunbar has size and range, and has looked quite capable, in spots. He doesn't have a ton of experience, however, and will be asked to start this fall. The team also signed veteran Orlando Scandrick - from the Cowboys - as a likely nickel/slot corner. 

Second-year man Fabian Moreau will be expected to take a significant step forward this fall. The Redskins would like very much to be able to primarily rely on Norman, Moreau and Dunbar while asking less of Scandrick. 

Don't forget Washington lost Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland this offseason. Fuller got moved to Kansas City as part of the Alex Smith trade, and Breeland remains a free agent.

Redskins coaches won't tell the exact truth, but the the team would love for Moreau to emerge opposite Norman and let Dunbar play in the slot. Or maybe let Moreau emerge in the slot, like Fuller did in 2017, and Dunbar opposite Norman. Scandrick hasn't played a full season since 2013, and the 'Skins brass can't expect that in 2018 for the 31-year-old corner. 

Josh Holsey, Adonis Alexander and Greg Stroman will provide depth at the bottom of the roster. That's two seventh-round picks and a supplemental sixth round pick. While each player provides reasons for optimism, it's hard to think any of the three young players will provide immediate help. They're better focused fighting for a roster spot than a starting spot. 

In 2017, cornerback ranked as a strength for the Redskins. 

In 2018, it's a big question. Elite play from Norman could change much of that equation. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap

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Need to Know: Redskins training camp preview—Offense

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Associated Press

Need to Know: Redskins training camp preview—Offense

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 22, four days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Training camp preview: Offense

Here are some of the big topics surrounding the offense at Redskins training camp along with some of the things I’ll be observing closely when training camp gets underway on Thursday. 

Alex Smith

The subheadline here doesn’t need any elaboration. The Redskins gave up a top-100 draft pick, a promising player, and $71 million in guaranteed money to get him. When asked about the timetable for Smith picking up the offense, Jay Gruden said, “He has got to get it down by the first game.”

That first game is seven weeks from today. Of course, the process has already started as Smith appeared to have a solid grasp of things in the offseason practices. There is every reason to think that he will look good in Richmond. 

The question is, how much will the coaches push him? Will they focus on him having success on shorter, easier throws to build his confidence? Or will they call plays that test his ability to throw deep? Last year in Kansas City his ability to hit on long passes helped transform him from being an above-average quarterback to an MVP candidate. The Redskins need him to be effective deep starting Week 1 and training camp needs to be the starting point. 

The running back rotation

This is primarily about Derrius Guice, who is the most anticipated rookie running back in team history. The Redskins were 28th in rushing yards last year and they bring back the same offensive line (although hoping for better health) and three of the same running backs. They are counting on Guice to be the difference maker. 

But Guice can’t do it by himself. Gruden will be wary of overworking his rookie, who has an aggressive running style and who was banged up for a lot of his last year at LSU. He also may give Guice a light load if he struggles in pass protection early on. Chris Thompson’s role is set. Where do Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine line up? Does one or the other take most of the first-team reps when Guice is getting a rest? 

The difference between being the third back and the fourth is big. The fourth back on the depth chart is unlikely to be active most game days. The active back could get five to 10 carries per game.

Who’s at left guard?

Is Shawn Lauvao going to be the left guard? It doesn’t seem logical that they would put all their eggs in Lauvao’s injury-prone and frequently ineffective basket. Will Ty Nsekhe line up there? Do they think that Tyler Catalina or Kyle Kalis can push for the starting job? Is a trade in the offing? 

Jordan Reed’s health

This does not need much explanation if you’ve been paying attention the last several years. It would be both a good sign and a major surprise if he starts camp healthy and doesn’t miss any time due to injuries. If he’s out there, there is no question that he and Smith will quickly develop chemistry. 

Wide receiver depth chart

The stakes at wide receiver are similar to those at running back. The top backup behind the three starters, who could be any of Maurice Harris, Robert Davis, Brian Quick or Try Quinn, will have a regular role in the offense line Ryan Grant had last year. The fifth guy will rarely play, the player who has the sixth spot will rarely play, and the seventh won’t have a job. 

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

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Apparently, some teams are worried that their players are playing too much of the video game Fortnite. No, seriously.

Timeline 

Happy birthday to Redskins running back Quinton Dunbar, who was born on this date in 1992.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 4
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 18
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 41

The Redskins last played a game 203 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 49 days. 

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