by Grant PaulsenBy Grant Paulsen

Chris Cooley is finally healthy again and the veteran tight end is looking forward to contributing to the Redskins’ re-tooled offense.

“I feel great, this is the best I’ve felt in a while,” Cooley said after participating in the Redskins’ first organized, full practice of the organized-team-activity portion of the offseason. “It’s a pleasure to be back, I’m excited to compete. It’s a big challenge for me and I’m looking forward to it but health-wise I’m good.”

The Redskins’ longest-tenured player, Cooley was placed on the season-ending injured reserve list last October after trying to overcome a broken finger and lingering pain and soreness in his left knee.

“I spent six months with a swollen knee and it took another four months before it felt like it should feel,” Cooley admitted about his rehabilitation.

“I’ve done a lot of hard work and a lot of running over the last two months and felt better than I’ve ever felt. I’m continuing to get my feet back under me and my speed where I feel comfortable, but health-wise I feel the best I’ve felt.”

One of the NFL’s most consistent tight ends over the past eight seasons, Cooley compiled career-lows in catches (8) and receiving yards (65) while participating in just five games in 2011 Hobbled during each of those performances, he was replaced by developing former second-round pick Fred Davis as Washington’s go-to receiving option at his position.

Just two seasons ago, however, a healthy Cooley played in all 16 games and caught 77 passes while tying his previous career high with 849 receiving yards. That type of production is what helped make the Utah State product one of the most popular players on Washington’s roster.

Now, with Davis having emerged as a potential star, Cooley will be looking to prove that he can remain healthy and that he’ll be able to provide a spark to a Redskins’ offense ravenous for play-making ability.

“We have a lot of talent on this football team,” Cooley said. “For me to contribute the way I would like to contribute, I think I have a big challenge ahead of me in proving that I’m still the player that I think I can be and I’m still the player that I was. That’s something I’m honestly excited about. That’s what makes good teams, is guys that have to show up and have to compete to play.”

The most prolific tight end in Redskins history, Cooley has hauled in 428 passes,  accumulated 4,703 receiving yards and caught 33 touchdowns in 108 games since Washington traded up to make him the 81st pick in the 2004 draft.

“I can contribute to this team in any capacity, even if I’m not ‘the guy,'” Cooley said. “I’m going to still be a major factor on this team and a major factor in this offense but that’s not enough for me. I want to be the guy that catches a lot of passes, gets a lot of first downs, scores touchdowns. That’s what everyone should aspire to be and that’s what I want to be.”


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