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WT: Rookie Cooley likely to start against Bucs


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Rookie Cooley likely to start against Bucs

By Jody Foldesy



Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs rewarded Chris Cooley yesterday for his preseason of steady progress by essentially naming the rookie H-back to the starting lineup.

Cooley, a third-round pick out of Utah State, "probably" will start ahead of veterans Mike Sellers and Brian Kozlowski in Sunday's opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gibbs said. The decision followed Cooley's strong showing in Friday's 27-0 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

"To be quite truthful, we feel real comfortable there playing a lot of guys," Gibbs said. "Going in to [the Bucs game], Chris will probably start."

Said Cooley: "I feel completely confident. I understand that it's a step up from the preseason. I'm going to take this step, do a lot of extra preparation and get ready to go."

Cooley's first preseason start came in the Falcons game. He caught two passes for 21 yards on the opening drive, which ended in a touchdown. On one of those receptions, he broke a tackle attempt by Pro Bowl linebacker Keith Brooking and used a shoulder to flatten safety Cory Hall.

"I think he's proven he's a pretty good runner after he catches the ball," Gibbs said. "He'll bounce off people and make things happen."

Gibbs also lauded Cooley's football intelligence, a trait that's vital for the H-back. The position is a hybrid of the tight end and fullback positions, and the player must perform duties ranging from opening rushing lanes to catching deep passes.

Cooley, who finished the preseason with five catches for 69 yards, became the second 2004 draft pick elevated to the Redskins' starting lineup. Safety Sean Taylor, the draft's fifth selection overall, was promoted several weeks ago.

Barrow 'not ready'

Middle linebacker Mike Barrow, who missed the entire preseason with tendinitis in his knee, sounds unlikely to play against the Bucs.

"He's not ready," director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer said after Barrow tested his knee at practice. Barrow declined comment as he exited Redskin Park. Tyer refused to rule Barrow out, saying those decisions don't need to be made until later in the week.

Barrow's dour prognosis comes as little surprise, considering he suffered a setback in his rehabilitation Aug. 23 and since has been proceeding with caution. Expected to start Sunday is four-year pro Antonio Pierce, who earned raves from coaches for his play this preseason.

Samuels, Thomas on course

Starting offensive linemen Chris Samuels and Randy Thomas moved a step closer to playing against the Bucs by practicing in a limited fashion. Both are expected to be full-go at practice tomorrow and play Sunday.

"I'm overexcited," assistant head coach for offense Joe Bugel said of the development.

Asked whether the pair would play, Bugel replied, "No doubt about it. They work too hard not to play."

Samuels, the left tackle, missed the Falcons exhibition after spraining his ankle Aug. 27 at St. Louis. Thomas, the right guard, skipped the past two weeks after straining a neck muscle while lifting weights.

Extra points

The Redskins were unable to sign veteran defensive tackle Bryan Robinson, who was cut Sunday by the Chicago Bears. Robinson, who played in Chicago under former Bears coordinator and current Redskins line coach Greg Blache, signed a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins for about $1.5 million, an NFL source said.

Washington did pick up linebacker Dominique Stevenson off waivers, according to a source familiar with the move. Stevenson, who was released by the Buffalo Bills, is known as an adept special teams player. Clifton Smith was cut to make room for Stevenson, who played in Buffalo for former Bills coach and current Washington assistant head coach for defense Gregg Williams.

Gibbs said he would like to have any other personnel swaps done today so the team can devote its full attention to the Bucs tomorrow. ...

Taylor sat out practice but not because of his bruised thigh. An illness had the rookie visiting the doctor. Tyer was optimistic Taylor would return tomorrow. Also sitting out was safety Andre Lott, whose knee injury isn't considered serious. ...

The Redskins filled their practice squad by signing eight young players released among Sunday's final cuts: defensive tackle Ryan Boschetti, cornerback Rufus Brown, defensive lineman Nic Clemons, offensive lineman Pita Elisara, running back Sultan McCullough, offensive lineman Ben Nowland, wide receiver Gari Scott and cornerback Garnell Wilds. ...

The Cincinnati Bengals signed cornerback Rashad Bauman, whom Washington cut Sunday. Another recent Redskins release, wide receiver Cliff Russell, was added to the Bengals' practice squad. Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis was the Redskins' defensive coordinator when Bauman and Russell were selected in 2002's third round.

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As requested by the Omelette. :laugh:

Personally I like Clifton Smith and thought he had more upside as a potential starter then this guy Dominique Stevenson who seems to have a special teams personality, but may never develop into a starter.

You got to feel sorry for Clifton Smith who on Sunday figures he made the team, only to learn on Monday night that it aint true. :(

Stevenson ran a 4.64 forty at the combine (pretty fast) and did 23 reps. (fairly strong). So he is faster than Clifton Smith who only ran a 4.86, but Smith is taller and much bigger at 253 lbs.


Prospect Profile

Antone "Dominique" Stevenson

Position: Middle Linebacker/Fullback

College: Tennessee

Height: 5-11.6

Weight: 222

Hometown: Gaffney, S.C.

Career Notes | Agility | High School | Personal | Stats


Positives: Very quick and active run stuffer … Stays under control knifing through the line of scrimmage … Has good strength to take on the fullback to fill the rush lanes … Uses his hands well when covering the tight ends and running backs in the short area passing game … Has the quickness to string plays wide and prevent the long gain around the outside corner … Adjusts to the flow of traffic and has fluid lateral agility … Could shift to fullback at the pro level … Shows aggression battling low blocks … Has the range to cover ground and make the plays … Turns his hips and drops off into zone coverage with ease … Active blitzer with the acceleration to flush the quarterback out and the power to unload crunching hits.

Negatives: Has difficulties handling multiple blockers, lacking the strength to stack up the pile … Gets sloppy in his hand usage while attempting to shed … Very hesitant in his man coverage, lacking confidence in his quickness to get to the ball … Rarely takes chances and tends to play too conservative, at times … Lets the blocker get into his chest too much … Has the hand strength to pull down the ball carrier, but leads with his shoulders too much to be effective wrapping up … Does not have the natural hands needed for the interception.


A two-year starter at middle linebacker, Dominque overcame off-season foot surgery rank second on the team in tackles as a senior … Originally recruited as a running back, he moved to the defensive side of the ball as a redshirt freshman … Finished his career with 231 tackles (149 solos). 6.5 sacks for minus-65 yards and 20 stops behind the line of scrimmage in three seasons as a starter with the Volunteers.



Started every game at middle linebacker, finishing second on the team with 74 tacklres (51 solos), including a 10-yard sack and five stops for losses of 21 yards … Deflected two passes and had a pair of quarterback pressures.

Syracuse - Had an assisted sack for a 4-yard loss and 9 tackles (7 solos).

Arkansas - Added another 9 hits (7 solos) with a pair of stops behind the line of scrimmage.

Georgia - Registered 10 tackles (5 solos), including 2 stops for minus-5 yards.

Notre Dame - Set up the game-clinching touchdown with an interception and posted 10 tackles (8 solos) with a pair of pass deflections.

Florida - Collected 8 tackles (6 solos) and assisted defensive tackle John Henderson in sacking QB Rex Grossman, forcing the Gators to settle for a field goal in a 34-32 Vols’ win.

Louisiana State (SEC Championship) - Was in on 7 tackles (6 solos) with a pressure and a stop behind the line of scrimmage.

Michigan (Citrus Bowl) - Closed out his career with4 tackles and a 3-yard sack.



Started every game, except vs. Kentucky at middle linebacker … Recorded 71 tackles (41 solos) with four sacks for minus-38 yards and four stops for losses of 6 yards … Deflected three passes and intercepted another … Also caused a fumble.



Moved into the starting lineup at middle linebacker (came off the bench vs. Kentucky) … Ranked third on the team with 65 tackles (43 solos), including 1.5 sacks for minus-17 yards and nine stops for losses of 15 yards … Deflected three passes and caused a fumble.



Played in every game as a reserve left outside linebacker … Recorded 21 tackles (14 solos) with two stops for losses of 7 yards and three pass deflections.



Did not play under NCAA Proposition 48 rules.


4.65 in the 40-yard dash … 2.71 in the 20-yard dash … 1.62 in the 10-yard dash … 34 1/2-inch vertical jump … 9' 10" broad jump … Bench presses 225 pounds 15 times … 365-pound bench press … 475-pound squat … 300-pound power clean.


All-Region selection, adding Prep Star and Blue Chip Illustrated All-American honors at Gaffney (S.C.) High … MVP of Cherokee County as selected by Spartanburg Herald Journal … Rushed 273 times for 1882 yards and 22 touchdowns while leading Gaffney to 10-4 record his senior year … Career rushing totals include a 6.4 rushing average with 556 carries for 3576 yards and 37 touchdowns … Caught 26 passes for 346 yards and two touchdowns during his career … Led the team to a 40-15 record during his career … Rushed for 1496 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior … Played cornerback his first two years … Also competed in track.


Competed the 2001 season as a graduate student as he earned his degree in Urban Studies during the summer … Born Antone Dominique Stevenson on Dec. 28, 1977 … Resides in Gaffney, S.C.

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Stevenson is 5'11 and 222. Smith is 6'0 and 253.

Obviously the presence of Pierce allowed the team to pickup an additional outside linebacker and release an inside backer in Smith.

I agree this move seems to be aimed at acquiring a special teams performer and not a guy to be groomed to be a regular.

The same can be said of Khary Campbell, whom the Skins picked up from Green Bay in free agency.

This resembles the Skins pattern in the past under Gibbs.

Remember when the backup linebackers were largely special teams regulars, guys like Pete Cronan and Ravin Caldwell?

Even in 1991 we had basically one guy that could come in as a starter, Kurt Gouveia, and the rest of the backup LBs were special teamers.

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