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Mailbag: Which Role Players Are Stepping Up?

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After an outstanding win last week, I couldn't help notice this team has some depth and role players who are stepping up. Guys like Reid and Collins come to mind. Who has been your favorite role player thus far this season? - ELLIOTT APONTE
HARTFORD, CT

Bryan: It hasn’t always been pretty, but for Cam Fleming to hold up the way he has against the Redskins and Saints has been impressive. This team learned a lesson last season on what can happen without Tyron Smith in the lineup. Good for the front office not letting that happen again.

Rob: Antwaun Woods was one of the best stories in training camp and has carried it over to the regular season. He’s helping the defensive line affect quarterbacks in the middle of the pocket. That was a major factor in containing Drew Brees. Woods has earned a significant role in Rod Marinelli’s rotation.

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Based on TV coverage, we can't always see the whole field and what's going on with all the receivers. Why hasn't Amari Cooper's presence opened up the opportunities for Cole Beasley? Is it scheme, execution, play-calling, defensive coverage or just not enough balls to go around? - JOEY ARNEL SAYSON / SANTA MONICA, CA

Bryan: Prescott just hasn’t thrown him the ball -- been as simple as that. Beasley is still running good routes and getting open but when you throw the ball in Cooper’s direction eight times and he makes eight receptions against the Saints’ defensive backs, I am going to continue to make that work.

Rob: Beasley had 33 catches in the first seven games and 15 in the five games since Cooper arrived. He did have a big game against Atlanta (including a would-be touchdown that he couldn’t quite bring down) and a crucial fourth-quarter catch that forced the Saints to start using timeouts. At times there’s been bracket coverage against Beasley in the middle of the field. But there’s no question Cooper has gotten a lot of targets in the passing game and that’s a factor.

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