By Ryan O’Halloran
Could he have played? Sure … for a couple of games. Could he have helped curb a six-game, mid-season losing streak. Absolutely … for a few weeks. Could he have lasted the season? Probably not.
A day after the Redskins’ season ended with a 5-11 record, tight end Chris Cooley expressed no regrets in being shut down in October because of a creaky knee that didn’t require surgery but did necessitate plenty of rest.
“It was the best option at the time for me,” Cooley said last week. “It was frustrating because I felt healthy enough to play toward the end of the year … to not take the risk was probably the best option of my career.”
Cooley sat out the entire preseason and played 38 or more snaps in the first four games before he broke his finger against Philadelphia in Week 6. Scheduled to be out a month, he was placed on injured reserve two weeks later because his knee continued to be off kilter.
Cooley finished the year with eight catches for 65 yards and no touchdowns, obviously career lows in all three categories. With him, the Redskins were 3-1 (albeit against a favorable schedule); without him for a full game, the Redskins were 2-10.
“Everyone’s disappointed with the outcome of the season,” Cooley said. “It’s been tough for me because I haven’t been able to play or produce for the team in what seems like forever. I’m really excited about starting over and moving forward.”
Starting over when one enters his ninth year and turns 30 before training camp seems arduous, no?
“I don’t think it sounds daunting,” Cooley said. “I think a fresh start is good for everybody now in terms of record and what we have going on.
It now appears Cooley’s fresh start will happen with the Redskins. That was debated when he was shelved, but since then, he’s turned the corner with his knee and Fred Davis is a free agent and one failed drug test from sitting out the year.
“I have no doubt I’ll be here,” Cooley said. “I’m excited to continue to be a part of this team and continue to play a game that I love.”
Through his first five-plus years, Cooley never missed a game (64-for-64) until he broke his foot against Philadelphia to end his 2009 season. He played all 16 the following year before the knee problem.
Amid the emergence of Davis (despite his statuses), does Cooley enter this off-season with a prove-to-them-I’m-not-done mindset?
“There’s not a chip on my shoulder – there’s nothing,” he said. “I want to produce, I want to win games and I want to have won. … I’m not worried at all about playing my best football or proving anything to anybody. I know I’m a good player and I’m going to do everything I can to play well for this team.”
Not grinding through a full season has changed Cooley’s routine, one he’s excited about, which could produce a re-fueled play-maker next year.
“I’m very healthy now,” he said. “There’s no burnout factor so I can spend January and February in the weight room, as opposed to previous in my career, I wanted to sit on the couch for a month.”
Contact O’Halloran at email@example.com