“One thing I noticed, if I catch a ball in practice and run 40 yards, as I decelerated, I could see a limp,” Cooley said. “So I can't go to the staff and say, ‘Why am I not on the field 100 percent of the time?’ They could point to this play and say, ‘Show us that you’re better.’ ”
Late Wednesday afternoon, he watched the tape and finally liked what he saw.
“You can really see the difference. It’s a noticeable burst,” he said. “I mean, I can feel how I’m running, but when you look back and see it, you can really see the difference. This is the first week of practice that I’ve noticed that burst.”
What remains to be seen is whether a healthier Cooley causes any change in the Redskins’ plans at tight end. While Cooley certainly hopes it does — “I want to be on the field,” he said matter-of-factly — he is able to take some comfort in the progress he’s made in just a few short weeks.
While Cooley always had maintained he would be ready for Week 1, not many in Redskins Park were as optimistic. Cooley has had two tears of the meniscus in his knee, the first in 2005. In January he had arthroscopic surgery; then he aggravated the injured area on the opening day of training camp.
He was unable to practice, and in the ensuing weeks, Cooley said he saw four different doctors. He tried cortisone, lubrication, electric stimulus — “anything and everything,” he said. But nothing helped as much as a series of platelet-rich plasma injection therapy treatments, a technique designed to accelerate tissue regeneration.
“I’d say I felt 50 percent better after each time that I did it,” Cooley said of the treatments.
Still, he essentially had just one practice under his belt in the week before the Redskins’ Week 1 matchup against the Giants.
“Pride-wise, no one could tell me I wasn’t going to play,” he said. “I’ve never really been hurt like that, with the pressure to come back and play. It feels like an immense amount of pressure.”
The pressure was both internal and external. Cooley, who still is listed atop the team’s depth chart, said he knew that every play he missed amounted to another opportunity for Davis.
“There’s also a level of competition in our locker room right now. I’d say it’s good competition, but obviously, I want to be on the field,” he said. “There’s nothing bad between Fred and me, but there is the thought from me that I want to get on the field as much as I can.”