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Scout's Eye: Washington Defense Presents Challenges At All Levels

IRVING, Texas -- One last time this season, let's take a look at the three players I think the Cowboys need to watch out for when the Redskins take the field at AT&T Stadium.

Nemesis: Pierre Garcon, WR

Outstanding competitor. Plays the game with a real passion. Fiery and emotional. This is a physically tough matchup due to Garcon's size. Plays with a keen awareness and understanding of his responsibilities. Sneaky fast with the ability to separate. Very good body control and change of direction.

Garcon has moves like a much smaller man. Outstanding leaping ability and strength. He will fight for the ball in traffic, and it's not often that he allows a defender to beat him for the ball. Can make plays all over the field. Reads coverages well and finds the open spots. Situationally a very smart player. Knows where the sticks are and how to run his routes to get past them. You don't see him come up short when the ball is thrown his direction. Consistent in the way he runs his routes. Not up and down at all.

Garcon is a clutch player in the way he plays. He's one of those receivers that functions well in all kinds of conditions. Does a nice job of beating the press. Knows how to use his size to his advantage. Will beat corners up. Natural hands and the ability to catch in them. Very wide catching radius. Have seen him catch plenty of bad balls. He's able to make those extended catches. Will adjust no matter where it is. Outstanding run after the catch. Can be difficult to bring down in the open field. Is a get after you blocker. Not afraid to stick his nose in the action. Hard guy to get away from when he gets hooked up.

Weapon: DeAngelo Hall, S

Hall has recently made the transition from cornerback to safety. Even at his age, he is more than willing to throw his body around. He is not afraid to lay the wood on a hit -- will not only hurt the ball carrier but will get his teammates at times.

He doesn't have the playing speed or quickness that he once had, but that still doesn't stop him from driving on the ball. He has a nose for the ball and how to put himself in position to make a play. Will burst when he sees the ball. Nice range for a safety. Has always been a player that got his hands on plenty of balls.  Still shows the ability to turn and move. Good reactionary athlete. Good body control with lateral quickness and agility. His playing strength has always been good. Explosive player with the ability to strike. Nice hand use and control.

Hall is learning to play in zone from safety, and there are snaps where you see him float and just react to what he sees. He is working to become a more disciplined player, but he has always been a guy that has gambled. Good tackler and player in run support. Football intelligence is through the roof. Very good instincts and awareness. Learning to communicate in the position. The Cowboys have to always be aware of where he is because of how he creates turnovers. Can put him in coverage on the tight end and not worry one bit.

Under the Radar: Preston Smith, DE

This Mississippi State product was a second-round selection by the Redskins during the 2015 NFL Draft. He looks like a much better pro player than he was in college. There were snaps while at Mississippi State where he didn't have many pass rush moves, and now he looks like he has developed some. This was a player that didn't always play in balance -- but he is starting to develop that.

Smith shows some short-area quickness and lateral speed. He will chase the ball and pursue. He can get off the ball, and he can get up the field. Has always had very good playing strength. His hand use and shed are good. Plays with some pop in his hands. Can anchor down at the point of attack and play the run. Can be a hard guy to move off his spot. Good motor and effort.

He has become more of a consistent player as the season has progressed. Good instincts both run and pass. Can read quickly. Is discipline in the way he plays. Will play into his block and then work off. Struggled in college when they used him on stunts but has become better with them. Plays much quicker and up to his ability. Can also play inside if they need him to do so as a nickel rusher. 


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