With the opening of the offseason training activities (OTAs) on Monday, the Redskins coaching staff got their first look at the entire 90-man roster at once*, and in doing so, began the arduous process of paring that 90 down to 53. One of the guys that surprisingly seems to be on some people’s bubble, is returning stalwart tight end Chris Cooley.
Cooley was plagued with injuries from the start last year, and ended up on the injured reserve list for the second time in three years. That has many questioning his durability, and his ability to return to the form that he once showed. I don’t have a problem with people questioning those things, it’s those that are indignant that he can’t possibly be of any use to the Redskins whatsoever, that have me baffled.
First of all, do you not remember that we’re talking about Chris Cooley here? You know – the guy that carried an anemic offense on his back for years, and was the sole point of joy for many in Redskins Nation? The guy who earned the moniker Captain Chaos for his antics both on and off the field. The wild man. The joker. The prankster. The hard-nosed football player.
I just don’t get those that seem to want Fred Davis to succeed so badly, that somehow they think it’s in their best interest to slag one of the most integral parts of many Redskin offenses in the last decade. Why? Because he got hurt? Sure it’s cause for concern when any football player gets into their ninth season, that they might not be able to bounce back as quickly, or have the same skills they had earlier in their careers. NFL history is also full of tough, gritty football players who either played younger than they were, or found ways to tailor their game to their changing assets.
It’s like somehow people combine 2009 and 2011 to come the conclusion that Cooley couldn’t possibly stay healthy anymore, and ignore that he had an extremely productive 2010. It’s like they ignore the fact that he has been a YAC machine his whole career and only time will tell if he can re-gain that kind of ‘after the catch toughness’ that has yielded so many great, extra effort offensive gains. I know that I personally think that these kinds of comments from Chris are at least encouraging: “No knee brace, no swelling, no anything. This is the first time that I’ve been out with the team that I’ve not felt sore.”
It isn’t like the Redskins’ offense doesn’t carry enough two tight end sets to keep both guys pretty busy, and perhaps more importantly, it isn’t like the Redskins have another foolproof back-up plan in place, should anything happen to Davis. Let’s not forget that on top of playing in the most physically demanding professional sport going and trying to stay healthy being tough enough, Mr. Davis will also have to keep his nose very clean, or he could end up on the wrong end of a year long suspension.
What if Davis did get injured or suspended?
Oh sure Niles Paul might very well turn into an excellent tight end one day, but will it be soon? Can it be counted upon? How can one possibly answer yes to those questions, when he hasn’t even lined up at tight end in a game yet?
Logan Paulsen – with all due respect – what NFL defensive player is going to bed having nightmares about matching up against Logan Paulsen?
I’m sure that it is the hope of both the coaching staff, and of Chris Cooley, that he can show the form required to still be an every down kind of contributor – even if he is seeing less action than Davis at times. The Redskins aren’t going to keep CC’s contract on the books, unless they think he can in fact contribute; but I’m sure the Redskins want, and believe that Cooley will push Davis, and potentially give the Redskins a two-headed monster at tight end, a wonderful outlet for a rookie quarterback.
You would think that Redskins fans would be hoping for the same thing.
“I can contribute to this team in any capacity, even if I’m not the guy, which is what I want to be, which is what I’m going to try to be,” Cooley said Monday, “I’m going to still be a major factor on this team and a major factor in this offense. I want to be the guy that catches a lot passes, gets a lot of first downs, scores touchdowns.”
Chris Cooley doesn’t have to ‘be a bum’ for Fred Davis to succeed, and vice versa. The Redskins need them both available, and playing at a high level.
Before you open your mouth to spew some venomous, spiteful rant about Cooley being useless, just because you’re not sure that he’s what he once was after an injury – maybe you should try to also remember ‘that bum’ carried the sorry asses of a lot of sorry efforts over the last eight years – I don’t think it’s out of line to show some respect. He’s more than earned the opportunity to try and prove that he can still play, before the pundits assume that he can’t.
People seem to be writing his epitaph already, but personally I’m looking forward to watching Cooley return, and return to the field healthy in 2012. I think he’s going to surprise some people.
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* minus DeAngelo Hall – no word yet as to why Hall was not in attendance today