During his eight seasons with the Washington Redskins, tight end Chris Cooley has been named to two Pro Bowls, earned a devoted following among the team’s fan base and continues to be a vocal and respected leader in the locker room.
So it was somewhat curious to hear Cooley on the first day of training camp talk about re-making himself this season and finding his place in the offense.
Cooley never fully healed, and after he broke his finger on Oct. 16 against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Redskins placed him on injured reserve.
“I took my time this offseason coming back from how I felt last year,” Cooley said. “I slowly worked into running harder and harder. Whatever level I was at, as soon as there’s no problem, I advanced to another. I feel good now, and I have no concerns.”
That’s encouraging news for the Redskins, who are trying to get rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III as comfortable as possible as he learns the nuances of Coach Mike Shanahan’s offense.
That means the tight end figures to be featured prominently again, although it’s unclear how much Cooley will be involved in the passing game following Davis’s most productive season. Davis finished with 796 yards on 59 receptions, both second on the team, with three touchdowns in 12 games.
Before going on IR, the frachise’s all-time leader in receving yards for a tight end played a hybrid position, lining up in the backfield and contributing as a blocker. Cooley probably will be asked to do more of the same this season, especially since Washington moved second-year player Niles Paul from wide receiver to tight end to provide more speed at the position.
The priority at the moment, though, is to ensure that Griffin makes a smooth transition under the spotlight as the No. 2 overall selection in the NFL draft. A significant portion of that process includes cultivating trust in his receiving options.
“I feel like there’s a chemistry between all the guys and Grif,” Cooley said. “He’s blended right in. I’m excited to work with him. I’m excited to have an opportunity to play in this offense. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he’s going to do and the type of player he’ll become, but the chemistry is there with everybody.”