Chris Cooley (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Veteran players inside the Washington Redskins’ locker room came to the defense of quarterback Robert Griffin III Wednesday with Griffin’s leadership being questioned widely a day after a teammate, wide receiver Santana Moss, said in a radio interview that Griffin should “stand up and say ‘me’ or ‘I’ ” when discussing his performance in Sunday’s loss at Philadelphia.

A former teammate, tight end Chris Cooley, says he also can vouch for Griffin’s leadership abilities.

“I think the leadership thing is [garbage],” Cooley said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “I think he’s a heck of a leader for a second-year player.”

Cooley, who played for the Redskins last season when Griffin was a rookie and remains around the team this year in his role as a broadcaster, said he thinks Griffin is bothered by the criticism he’s now receiving but does his best to hide that.

“I think he’s handling it well,” Cooley said. “I think it affects him more than anyone sees. This is the first time in his life he’s been really criticized. This is the first time in his life people haven’t believed in him.”

When Griffin spoke about what the team did, rather than what he did, in his public comments, Cooley said, he merely was doing what athletes are coached to do.

“The one thing I’ve always been told is ‘me’ or ‘I’ is the ugliest thing you can say in an interview,” Cooley said. “We’re all coached to say ‘we’ and ‘team’ in interviews.”

Cooley sees no leadership issues with Griffin but, with the Redskins in last place in the NFC East with a 3-7 record, he does see potential internal issues.

“Everything is noticed,” he said. “It’s getting close to being really interesting. I think we’re on the fringe of a breaking point between the coaching staff, team and the quarterback. One win would fix it.”

Cooley also said that Griffin is a fixture as the organization’s franchise quarterback and anyone at Redskins Park who might not like that had better find a way to live with it.

“I think if you want to be here,” Cooley said, “you better find a way to get along with Robert Griffin III.”

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesdays.

What’s ahead:

● Gene Wang’s fantasy watch.

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