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Coach's Corner: Al Saunders

Every week, chats with a Redskins coach about a hot topic. Today: associate head coach-offense Al Saunders discusses getting the tight ends more involved in the Redskins' offense:

"There is a lot of room for tight ends to be very successful in this offense. Three years ago, Tony Gonzalez caught 102 passes in this offense. He caught more passes in one season than any other tight end in the history of the game.

"Right now, the defenses are doing a real good job of neutralizing the tight end's role and we've had to keep them in on pass protection to help our tackles on occasion. That helps balance up the protections.

"We anticipate more five-man protections, but we haven't been able to do that yet. I think as we do some other things and we progress, the offense will be able to open up a little more.

"Also, the depth of the [quarterback] drops and the timing of the [receiver] routes are not quite at the level where we want them to be, so we have cut back on some of the four and five receiver routes.

"It's a long season and we have 13 games left, and I think by the end of the season, Chris Cooley will be as productive as he has been.

"We would like to throw the football down field a lot more than we have in the last few games, but we haven't been able to do that successfully or as much as we would like. Last week against Houston, it was important that we establish the running game, and we did a good job of that.

"That will allow us to take advantage of versatility plays in games in the future. You would hope that teams would start to use an extra defender to defend against the run. That should give you some opportunity for one-on-one on the outside, and for tight ends on the inside."

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