Mailbag: Where’s Cooley, Super Bowl chances, name debate and more …


Tight end Chris Cooley remains unsigned. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

A lot of questions this week, which is always a good thing.

They range from Chris Cooley’s future, Super Bowl chances, the name change (or lack there of), training camp accommodations, to rookie salaries and more.

There were a number that I didn’t get to, but those will lead off next Monday’s mailbag. Thanks as always for taking part.

Let’s get after it.

I’m sure you’ve gotten a ton of e-mails about this, but I was just curious.  Your article titled, “Redskins announce rookie jersey numbers,” states that rookie running back Jawan Jamison will wear jersey No. 47.  Does this mean Chris Cooley will not be back as a Redskin this year?

– Toan Tran

Jersey numbers can always change, but there doesn’t seem to be any interest on the Redskins’ part in bringing Cooley back this season. When I checked in with him earlier this spring, he hadn’t heard from Washington, or any other team. Now, if there was an injury, you never know what could happen. But it does appear for now that the Redskins have moved on.

I heard the Redskins were only three to four playmakers away from a Super Bowl caliber team. Do you think we now have all the pieces of the puzzle after this draft to achieve that goal?

 – Jeff Gurdak

It’s still extremely early, but I don’t think they’re there yet. They are getting the needed pieces in place, but deficiencies remain. Rookies David Amerson, Jordan Reed, Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo are talented players, but it’ll take some time before we know if they can be major contributors. The Redskins still have questions at wide receiver, where Pierre Garcon is coming off injury, the same goes for Josh Morgan, and Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson are inconsistent. Running back depth is questionable as well. One more explosive offensive weapon would help. Questions remain about right tackle as well. On defense, the jury is still out on whether Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan can be a dominant pass-rushing duo, and the secondary has its question marks as well. The Redskins have a chance to again compete for the NFC East title, and if all the starters from last year come back healthy and have good years, then perhaps they can achieve more than last season, but it’s hard to see the Redskins as Super Bowl contenders just yet.

Do you think Snyder has even given thought to sitting down with the Indian groups that are offended by the name, “Redskin”?  It seems simple enough to hear them out instead of hiding behind inaccurate polls and tradition. I was born a Skins fan and I understand the tradition behind it, but that doesn’t make it right.  The name needs to be changed immediately. 

  – Chris Hunter

The Redskins don’t feel a need to do so. Why? I’m not sure. But team officials are dead set against changing the name. They believe that the majority of fans support the decision to keep the name as it is. Also, changing the name is a little more complicated than just making the decision to do so. Earlier this offseason, Mark Maske wrote an article on the topic. Check it out.

Regular listeners to the radio/internet broadcast can surmise that Sam Huff is quickly nearing his time to retire. Is he expected to be in the booth during the coming football season? If not, who will take his place? Doc Walker? If so, could Cooley possibly take Walker’s place on the sidelines?

– Joe Beman
Albuquerque, New Mexico

There’s no word yet on if Sam will return. One person I asked told me that he’s still deciding what he wants to do regarding the upcoming season. He had a reduced role last season if you recall, from a story written by Barry Svrluga. Doc Walker does have a role on the team, and Cooley often is mentioned as a possible replacement for Sam, but that’s all speculation for now.

Where do the rookies – David Amerson, Jordan Reed, Phillip Thomas, Chris Thompson, Brandon Jenkins, Bacarri Rambo and Jawan Jamison – all fall salary-wise with the new CBA, and just how do they affect the cap? I’m wondering if there will be money left over to maybe snag someone’s June cut.

 – Emmett Mosley

None of the rookies have signed their contracts yet, but once they do, their salaries for the coming season won’t have much of an impact on the salary cap, because in the offseason, only the top 51 salaries count against the cap. Their salaries will be very similar to those players picked at the same spot as them last season. Amerson will have a cap hit of roughly $732,855, Reed $563,252, Thomas $513,023, Thompson $451,813, Jenkins $449,125, Rambo $430,788, Jamison $418,403. The Redskins have about $2.03 million in cap space right now, and could make a signing if they desired.

[Update, 4:10 p.m.: The Redskins signed Rambo and Jenkins].

Why the Redskins didn’t re-sign cornerback Cedric Griffin?

– Darrell Gross

Cedric Griffin had an okay season, but not the greatest. He wasn’t a long-term solution at that position, and the team had an opportunity to upgrade that position in the draft, and hopefully get a more physically gifted, and more consistent player.

I keep up on my Skins news, but I haven’t heard a whole lot about their plans for replacing London Fletcher next – or God forbid – this year. I like Perry Riley, but do they expect  Keenan Robinson to be the other inside man? He looked kinda hum-drum in his limited playing time last season. I’d like to see Rob Jackson convert to a middle man myself. What do you think?

  – Nathan Broome

The Redskins still don’t really know what they have in Keenan Robinson. The hope when they drafted him last season was that he a guy they could groom behind Fletcher and Riley. But he got hurt, and so, he has some catching up to do. Rob Jackson is an outside linebacker and doesn’t seem to be suited for inside linebacker. The team has Bryan Kehl and Roddrick Muckelroy on the roster, and also signed undrafted free agents Marvin Burdette, Will Compton and Jeremy Kimbrough, so throughout the offseason and training camp, they’ll get the chance to show what they are capable of doing.

Has anyone explained what “100 percent recovery” means for the most famous knee  in D.C.?  Will it be based on an MRI? Soreness? Pain? Some sort of flexibility test? Speed? Cutting ability? I’m guessing a big factor would be something like no swelling or any other signs of inflammation after an intense on the field workout?

– Barry Krakow
New Mexico

Griffin is evaluated each day as he goes through his rehab, and if there were any complaints of pain or swelling, the team’s medical staff wouldn’t give him the green light to increase his activity. The same will apply to his return to the field. They won’t turn him loose until they see him do everything he needs to do without limitation or setback.

What is the purpose of not dressing the full 53-man roster on game day?  It can’t be money, because if a player is on the roster on game day, they receive their weekly salary. It seems to be counterproductive in a sport where injuries are part of the game. I have been following Skins football since the days of Lombardi and have never been given clarification on this point.

  – Dwayne Rowe

Good question. I consulted Mark Maske, who has covered the league for an extremely long time, for this answer. It’s just to force a coach to use some skill and judgment in how to best utilize his 45-man active game-day roster. You have to use some strategy on what players to have active and not active. Having all 53 active would take the strategy out of it.

Will the Redskins protect their players with a different turf that is designed to withstand a 16-game season? Some of us fans think the field is the main reason RGIII was injured last year. 

 – Lee Treadwell

The Redskins don’t agree with the notion that field conditions were to blame for Griffin’s injury. But they have admitted that they blew it when it came to re-sodding the field at midseason when they had the opportunity to do so. They said that they will be sure to re-sod the field midseason to ensure that the conditions hold up over the course of the 16-game season.

What is the deal with free agent RT Eric Winston?  Didn’t he play for Kyle Shanahan in a zone blocking scheme? Is his price tag that high?

 – Walter Blair

Yes, Winston did play for Kyle Shanahan in the same blocking scheme while they were both with the Houston Texans. The Redskins had some interest last offseason when he was a free agent, but he signed with Kansas City. They didn’t make an effort to sign him this season, our sources say, and yes, price tag does seem to have a lot to do with it.

Redskins fever is already building in Richmond and we are excited to show off our city to all the other fans. In reading the information about the new training facility it clearly states there will not be formal seating for regular fans, but they will observe from a grassy slope. I cannot find anything about where people in wheelchairs will be going. My 16-year old daughter loves the Redskins, but without handicapped parking for her lift and a place where she can safely see, it will not be possible for her to attend. Can you fill us in on what if any plans there are for these exceptional fans?

– Andrew S. Herzog

I checked with a team official, and they said absolutely, there will indeed be areas set up at the training camp facility so the team can accommodate fans in need of wheelchair access.

I am looking for us to give Orakpo a long-term extension sometime in the near future. How much will the Clay Mathews contract impact their negotiations? Will it make negotiations easier or more complicated?

– Rich Wickman

Orakpo would love to work out a long-term deal to remain with the Redskins, but more than anything, last season’s injury will complicate matters. If he was coming off of a healthy season, the team would know what they had. They likely will want to see if he can remain healthy and play at a high level before awarding him a big pay day.

If RGIII is not ready for the first few games (which seems prudent), and Cousins wins four out of five (which he seems capable of), do we have several ingredients of an epic quarterback controversy? I only ask because this town seems to follow that pattern.

 Adam Freedman

If Cousins does open the season as the starter and do well, I don’t think it causes a controversy as much as it does give Griffin more time and reduces the pressure to rush him back prematurely. Griffin and the Redskins, however, believe that he has a good shot at making it back by the start of the season.

Did Hightower play anywhere last year. Is he done?  Invited to camp with anyone this year?  The Skins seem to have clearly moved on.

 – Allan Stoneman

Hightower, who was lost for the 2011 season and made a failed attempt to return from that torn anterior cruciate ligament last season, spent all year following his release working regain his health. There was a report that he met with the Giants recently, but he hasn’t signed with anyone yet. And yeah, your assessment seems right. The Redskins like what they have in Alfred Morris as their feature back and are looking for young, explosive talent as his sidekick.

 Any word on whether the team has plans to bring back Sav Rocca? It was mentioned that two punters were given a look during rookie camp. 

 – Mark Pierce

Yes, the Redskins did re-sign Rocca earlier this spring. They did have two undrafted rookies in for the rookie minicamp, but that seems to be moreso them doing their homework so if Rocca were to get injured, they would have familiarity with an available punter.

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in the Monday Mailbag.

More Redskins & NFL coverage from The Post:

D.C. Sports Bog: Feinstein says Snyder knows no shame

Alfred Morris says he left a lot of yards on the field last year

D.C. Sports Bog: Josh Morgan supports keeping the name ‘Redskins’

The Other 31: Ravens begin retooling process after post-Super Bowl defections

A closer look at RBs Thompson and Jamison

Do No Harm, Part III: Stuck with bills from ‘the hurt business’

NFL vet Reggie Williams fights to save leg | Photos

Part 1: NFL medical standards | Part 2: Pain management

Terrapins Insider: Furstenburg catches on with Ravens | Tate with Eagles

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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