Question: With all the uncertainty at wide receiver, could we see Chris Cooley lining up in the slot more often? He's made references to learning the whole offense, and with Fred Davis, the Redskins have to find ways to utilize both guys as much as possible. It seems like it could throw a nice amount of unpredictability into the offense.
-- Joe H.
Gary: Certainly, the presence of both Cooley and Davis at tight end gives the Redskins more versatility on offense. For example, they could run two tight end sets with Cooley and Davis, or they could put Cooley at slot wide receiver and keep Davis in at tight end. Cooley has lined up as a slot wide receiver in the past, so this would be nothing new to him. You are right that offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan wants to find ways to get both Cooley and Davis on the field at the same time, and this could be the solution. "It's as good of a luxury as any team has," Shanahan said. "We have two tight ends who I think both can start on almost any team. They're not just receivers, they're not just run blockers – they're good in both areas. When we have two guys like that, it can create some serious matchup issues."
Question: Gary, please give it to us straight – I read an article that suggested that Donovan McNabb has not lived up to initial expectations. This is obviously early, but it's never too early to speculate. Towards the end of McNabb's run with the Eagles, he seemed to be off the mark with his receivers, often hop-skipping 15-yard passes into the ground, as was evident against the Dallas Cowboys at the close of last season. What's your take?
-- Joseph Q.
Gary: Okay, I'm giving it to you straight. I've watched a lot of Donovan McNabb over the years – seems like the Eagles are always on TV – and he has always had some issues with accuracy. In recent years, he seemed to look for deep routes instead of the short routes common to the West Coast offense. That said, McNabb remains an effective quarterback. He may be one of the best QBs ever to escape pressure and complete passes downfield. He takes chances on many pass routes, but still keeps his interceptions to a minimum. Keep in mind that the Redskins' offense is expected to emphasize the run, so McNabb is not going to be asked to carry the load. His passing may be more effective because defenses will have to respect the Redskins' ground game, thus opening up passing lanes downfield.
Question: Hey Gary, it seems that the Redskins value versatility (for example, Mike Furrey and Lorenzo Alexander.) Would Darrel Young, second-year man from Villanova, be another player who can play both offense and defense? I know he has some speed and talent and would be a candidate for special teams. However, I noticed that he has switched from linebacker to running back. Does he take reps at running back in practice?
-- Ennis D.
Gary: Young has switched positions this offseason and he has been working alongside Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson and the rest of the running backs. He stands at 5-11 and 246 pounds, good size for a fullback. It's doubtful that Young would play both offense and defense like Alexander did in recent years, but not out of the question. He remains a roster long-shot, but special teams coaches liked what they saw of Young last preseason. If he can make a mark on kick return units, then he could emerge as a roster contender.
Question: Gary, where are the Redskins as far as completing the contract signings with rookies and any other free agents?
-- Don C.
Gary:The Redskins have only one unsigned rookie: top draft pick Trent Williams. He is a key player to have in camp on time because he is expected to assume a starting job at left tackle. He needs all of the reps he can get to be ready for the season opener. As of Tuesday afternoon, Williams remained unsigned, though. Negotiations are ongoing.