Tight end Chris Cooley said after participating in Monday’s practice at Redskins Park that his once ailing left knee is sound and he’s eager to demonstrate that he can be a major contributor to the Washington Redskins’ offense again.
“I felt great,” Cooley said. “This is the best I’ve felt in a while. It’s a pleasure to be back. I’m excited to compete. I’m excited to be part of a team that I like the guys. I like the way we work. Like I said, it’s a big challenge for me and I’m looking forward to it. But health-wise, I’m good.
Cooley participated fully as the Redskins went through drills in their indoor practice bubble as part of Monday’s organized team activities (OTAs).
He is coming off a season in which he had only eight catches in five games before he was placed on the injured reserve list in October because of his knee. He also suffered a broken finger just before being placed on IR.
Cooley turns 30 in July. The Redskins used their franchise player tag this offseason on tight end Fred Davis, who had 59 catches for 796 yards in 12 games last season.
But Cooley said he still believes there is a significant role for him to play with the Redskins and he’s confident that he can again resemble the player who once was among the sport’s most productive tight ends. Cooley had 83 catches in 2008 and 77 catches in 2010.
“The way I honestly feel… is that I can contribute to this team in any capacity,” Cooley said. “I feel even if I’m not the guy — which is what I want to be, which is what I’m going to try to be — I’m going to still be a major factor on this team and a major factor in this offense. But that’s not enough for me. I want to be the guy that catches a lot of passes and gets a lot of first downs and scores touchdowns. That’s what everyone should aspire to be and that’s what I want to be.”
Cooley said he knows there is much for him to prove with his play.
“I think it’s very apparent that Fred Davis had a great year for us last year and we have a lot of talent on this football team,” he said. “And for me to contribute the way I would like to contribute, I think I have a big challenge ahead of me in proving that I’m still the player that I think I can be and I’m still the player that I was.. . . I think that’s what makes good teams, is guys that show up and have to compete to play on their team.”
Cooley took the field Monday at a slimmed-down 237 pounds, he said. He has been listed at 255 pounds.
“I spent six months with a swollen knee and it took another four months before it felt like it should feel,” he said. “At this point… it’s just about getting better at football. I’m to the point now where I trust that I’m healthy. And I think that takes some time for anybody. It’s tough to know. But I think I’ve worked hard enough and I’ve run hard enough and had no swelling and no issue in my knee that I trust that I’m healthy.”