Today’s newspaper contains a look at tight end Chris Cooley’s future with the Redskins. Here is more of what he said in my recent interview with him:

Cooley on:

*What he thinks his role on this team will be and whether the Redskins have communicated to him what they envision his role being. . . . “To be honest with you, all I want to do is be a part of this team. I want to be a part of a winning team. I want that to be this team. I’m very excited about the prospects that this team has moving forward. And I’m very excited about whatever my role will be moving forward with this team.”

*On whether he has sought to have a conversation with team officials about his role this season. . . . “Everyone wants someone to tell them that everything is going to be great. I think that’s perfect and everyone feels warm and cozy when someone says that. That’s not the way it works. That may be the way other teams work. That’s not the way this team works. We feel like competition breeds excellence. That’s kind of what they strive for. I’m just trying to fit into that.”

*On still being able to be a tight end who has 80 catches in a season: “I feel I’m the type of guy that has a knack for getting open, has a knack for catching the ball. I’m as good as I have ever been in my career at understanding this game. That’s what every veteran player is going to tell you because that’s what it is. You see things differently. I’m definitely a guy that understands the game. I have no doubt that physically I can contribute at that level.”

*On whether that confidence has been reaffirmed by how he has felt on the field so far in training camp… “The best thing out of training camp so far is that I’ve been very healthy. I’ve been able to practice every day. I think a lot of the issue for me had been: Can I stay healthy? Is my knee healthy? I’ve had no swelling whatsoever. I feel that I’ve gotten better every day. I feel that I’ve gotten healthier every day and that’s very, very encouraging for me. If I continue to get healthier and feel more confident, then I can continue to hopefully be more productive for this team.”

*On whether he doubted he would get healthy again or if there would be a role on the Redskins waiting for him to reclaim…. “My biggest concern was that my body would come back. Last year the real issue for me was that I’d had a knee surgery in the offseason and I wasn’t healthy from that. It was the first time in my life when I haven’t been able to just fight through an injury and be able to be healthy. It was the first time that I actually had to step back and say, ‘I’ve got to take three months and just sit and do nothing.’ It was about three months before it wasn’t swollen. And I fought hard through it all season. I fought through what I had, and I shouldn’t have done that. I don’t regret what I did. [But] I didn’t understand the injury the way I should have understood it. I had a lot of swelling and when there was swelling, it just wasn’t getting better. I was just compounding my problem. And so the team made the best decision for me in putting my on the injured reserve and saying, ‘Get healthy and let’s not put any pressure on you.’ If I hadn’t broken my finger, I’d have continued playing on my knee and doing whatever I could. I’m stubborn when it comes to playing. I didn’t want to miss practice. I didn’t feel like I should miss practice. I’m not comfortable with missing anything. And so the decision wasn’t, ‘What do you think is best?’ The decision was, ‘Look, you’re not healthy. Get healthy.’ And I’m very thankful that Coach [Mike] Shanahan made that decision for me.”

*On when he sensed his knee would be sound enough for him to continue playing… “When I started running hard in April. Because I went through three months of nothing, and then you don’t want to instantly start back to where you were. And so I continued to rehab and I continued working with our staff. And I think everyone did a fantastic job. I couldn’t be happier, based on the way I felt last year. I couldn’t be happier with our training staff…. I’ve had no issues so far. And so now it’s: How fast can you get? How quick can you get great at this game physically? And it’s coming back.”

*On his hopes for his future with the Redskins . . . “I’ve been a part of this team for a long time and as far as wins and losses, we’ve been for the most part unsuccessful. I have no aspirations of going anywhere else, of doing anything for anyone else. For my own world, I believe that I am a high-caliber player that can be very, very productive for this offense. But I have to prove a lot to do that. I think I have to get myself back into a position where the coaches say, ‘Hey, let’s put Chris here. Let’s put Chris here.’ In the meantime, I have to be successful with what opportunities I have.”

*On what he thinks is left for him to accomplish in his NFL career . . . “I’ve been extremely fortunate with personal success. I’ve been fortunate to go to a Pro Bowl. I remember being in Hawaii at my first Pro Bowl and thinking I can’t even imagine that this could have ever happened to me and that I would be here. At this point in my career, winning with this team is the only thing that matters to me. And that’s the honest truth. I want to be here and I want to win. I want to win for these fans and for this area. It means a lot to me.”

*On the attention (or lack of attention) he pays to the speculation about his future with the Redskins … “I have to focus on my ability to be the best that I can be. If that’s what this staff and this organization thinks is what’s best for them, then that’s phenomenal.”

*On his willingness to accept a lesser role … “I’m happy to do whatever is asked of me. I think I always have been. I think I’ve always been a very coachable player. I think I’ve always been a player that said, ‘Look, I’ll do whatever you want me to do.’ And I’ve fit in a lot of different ways. I’ve fit it on a lot of different offenses. I’ve been accommodating to a lot of different roles, and it’s worked for me.”