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Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley breaks bone in right ankle, will likely miss rest of season

By Rick Maese
Tuesday, October 27, 2009

As if suffering their fifth defeat in seven games wasn't painful enough, the Washington Redskins lost the most reliable component of an unreliable offense in Monday night's 27-17 loss to Philadelphia. Tight end Chris Cooley, a two-time Pro Bowler, broke a bone in his right ankle. Sources said he is likely to miss the remainder of the season.

"When it rains, it pours," center Casey Rabach said. "We lost a really good football player tonight, probably one of the best on our offense."

With a new play-caller running the show against the Eagles, Cooley figured to play a major role in the Redskins' offensive production Monday night. In fact, the team's first two offensive plays targeted Cooley -- first an 18-yard reception from quarterback Jason Campbell, followed immediately by a three-yard reception.

But with the offense still searching for its rhythm, Cooley was hurt on the Redskins' first play of the second quarter, a play in which Campbell was stripped of the ball and the Redskins lost possession.

Cooley planted his right foot on the play and appeared to roll his ankle. He was not hit and limped off the field. Just a few minutes later, Cooley left the field on a cart and didn't return. In the locker room, Cooley had X-rays that immediately revealed the grim results.

Coach Jim Zorn said the break is on the inner side of Cooley's tibia. He could not say Monday night whether Cooley would be able to return this season.

"I haven't seen the X-ray myself, but we're quite certain it's broke or fractured in some way," Zorn said, "and we'll make a better diagnosis [Tuesday]. He'll be out for a while now until this thing is healed up."

Cooley was not available to comment immediately following the game.

Since the Redskins selected him in the third round of the 2004 draft, Cooley, a perennial fan favorite at FedEx Field, has been as dependable as anyone. He has not missed a single game in his career with the Redskins. His string of 71 consecutive starts, the most of any current Washington player, will likely come to an end when the Redskins play at Atlanta on Nov. 8.

"It's gonna be a tough road now," backup tight end Todd Yoder said. "We lost Cools tonight, there's another offensive weapon down in an offense that obviously has already been struggling. So we're gonna have to find it through other guys, and hopefully some younger guys and other guys will step up and start making plays."

Cooley's loss is the latest for the struggling offense. Of the team's four offensive Pro Bowlers from last season, two have suffered serious injuries this season -- Cooley and left tackle Chris Samuels, who is expected to be placed on injured reserve during the Redskins' upcoming bye week. (Fullback Mike Sellers and running back Clinton Portis are the others.)

One of the league's top receiving tight ends, Cooley will likely be missed most by Campbell.

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