Cooley breaks bone in right ankle, may be sidelined for rest of season

By Rick Maese
Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In addition to suffering their fifth defeat in seven games, the Redskins also 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, suffered a broken bone in his right ankle in the second quarter and could miss the remainder of the season.

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

Zorn wasn't certain whether Cooley would return this season.

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 suffered the injury on the team's opening 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. Zorn said the break is on the inner side of Cooley's tibia.

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. His string of 71 consecutive starts, the most of any Washington player, will likely come to an end when the Redskins play at Atlanta on Nov. 8.

Cooley is just the latest loss for the struggling offense. Of the team's four offensive Pro Bowlers last season, two have suffered serious injuries this season -- Cooley and left tackle Chris Samuels. (Fullback Mike Sellers and running back Clinton Portis are the others.)

Since Campbell took over the starting quarterback spot in November 2006, Cooley has been his favorite target. Campbell's first career touchdown, in fact, was to Cooley. They hooked up again the following week for a 66-yard score, which still stands as Cooley's career long.

Staff writer Barry Svrluga contributed to this report.

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