Through two preseason games, Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley has yet to get a clear idea of his role with the team. He’d also like to knock off some rust with a couple of catches and broken tackles on Saturday.
But if not, Cooley said Wednesday that he won’t let the inactivity worry him. Instead, he will continue to prepare and observe how the Redskins are using their younger tight ends to grasp how he and starter Fred Davis will be used.
Cooley, missed 11 games in 2011 with thumb and knee injuries, has played fullback in the first two preseason games with Darrel Young nursing a strained hamstring. He has lined up at tight end a handful of times, but he and Davis have yet to be targeted.
Instead, the plays for tight ends have gone to Niles Paul (five catches for 36 yards and a touchdown) and Logan Paulsen (three catches, 45 yards), who are both battling for spots on the depth chart.
Cooley said their production is cause for optimism.
“Initially in my career, it was really hard for me if I wasn’t catching balls, even in practice,” Cooley said. “I think it’s hard for Fred, because he’s in a position where he wants to catch 80 balls. I’ve had to take him aside and say, ‘Hey, listen, look at what everyone else is doing. Look at what some of the receivers are doing, look at what the other tight ends are doing, because that’s what you’re going to be doing once the season starts, because that’s where the script really goes once we start the season.’ So that’s not hard for me.”
Cooley, who ran pass routes on three plays against the Chicago Bears Saturday, said that while he’s not growing impatient, he does believe he would benefit from some game action before the start of the season.
“I would like to have a couple catches, I would like to catch it and turn upfield, yeah, get tackled, run with the ball,” Cooley said. “It’s just such a different feel from in practice. We don’t really tackle in practice. If not, it’s not a huge deal, but yeah, I would like to.”
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said that despite taking on an unfamiliar role, Cooley has done well. Struggles on offense against the Bears kept the Redskins from running as many plays as Shanahan had hoped and eliminated opportunities for Cooley, Shanahan said.
“I thought Chris did a good job,” Shanahan said. “We didn’t have as many plays as we would have liked in the first half. Therefore, we didn’t get all the reps we would liked to have had, but the reps Chris did, he did a good job.”
Cooley said he doesn’t know what his role on Saturday will entail. But he hopes to make the most of any action he sees.
“The biggest thing for me is getting back to game speed, playing at a high level, playing faster than practice,” Cooley said. “ I think I felt better this week than I did the first week. So hopefully, and for everyone, and especially myself, we go into Indianapolis feeling like I’m ready to start.”
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