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Redskins' Chris Cooley ready for career-defining season

Monday - 8/6/2012, 4:50pm  ET

AP: 490a1446-6e76-46f0-b314-fb6fa50559c8
Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley acknowledges the fans as he arrives during fan appreciation day at an NFL football training camp practice at Redskins Park, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012, in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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Why Cooley doesn't listen to music before a game

Chris Cooley, Washington Redskins tight end

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Megan Cloherty, wtop.com

ASHBURN, Va. - It's undoubtedly a big year for the Washington Redskins, but at tight end, this is a career-defining season for Chris Cooley.

Coming off an injury early in the 2011-12 season, Cooley, 30, says he'll be ready for Washington's first preseason game against Buffalo Aug. 9.

Last season was a short one for Cooley, who only played five games, putting up a total of 8 receptions and 65 yards. It was a far cry from his team-boosting 77 receptions the year before.

"It's really a year where ... the focus for me is one day at a time," Cooley says after a training camp workout. "[I'm] getting back into the flow of things and constantly getting better."

Some question if he can come back at the same level of play after having to rehab his knee and finger. Cooley says he approached his training cautiously to ensure he didn't aggravate his injuries.

"I slowly worked into running harder and harder. Whatever level I was at, as soon as there's no problem, I advanced to another. I feel good now, and I have no concerns," Cooley tells The Washington Post.

While there's some concern over his healthy return, there is little doubt of the franchise's admiration for No. 47. Cooley was drafted in the third round in the 2004 draft and has spent his entire career with the Redskins.

His teammate Redskins' defensive end Stephen Bowen agrees Cooley is in shape to attack a play at full speed.

"He looks great, man. I think the two tight end combo, man, it'll be hard for people to get us," Bowen says.

Despite being absent at the majority of practices last season, the 6-foot-3- inch tight end remained a positive force in the locker room. He is popular with his teammates and with Redskins fans as well.

Fans know to chant his last name when Cooley pulls a football from the air for a first down. A rival team might mistake the crowd's call as a "boo," but really it's "Cool-ey."

Heading into his ninth season, Cooley prides himself on his interaction with fans. He is one of the few players to have a blog, called the Cooley Zone, a Twitter account and a website.

However, Cooley has slowed down on social media in the off-season. In fact, his last tweet was March 5. Not surprisingly, it was about music.

"I have a couple things I've been listening to," Cooley says when asked during training camp about his favorite things. "I like the Lumineers a ton. I think they're a great new band. Imagine Dragons is an awesome new band. I also just got the Fun. CD and I like that too. [It's] all kind of weird stuff."

Cooley's "songs of the week" list that he posts on his personal blog during the season has a following of its own.

Though he loves music, Cooley says he does not listen to music to get his energy up before a game.

"I've tried that, and I try to just stay calm as far as practice and games go," he says. "I don't want the anxiety or the adrenaline pregame. I like to start once I get in the game."

Cooley's Faves

  • Favorite bands (now): Lumineers, Imagine Dragons, Fun.
  • Favorite snack: "Oreos and then dip them in peanut butter and then dip them in milk."
  • Nickname: Captain Chaos
  • Superstitions: "I don't have any superstitions, like I'm not into that at all."
  • Off-season vacation: His house in Wyoming. "My family is there and I grew up there. So, I like to go back and spend a couple weeks in the off-season. I don't know, it's home."

Cooley is now competing to jump-frog tight end starter Fred Davis, who despite a NFL suspension last year due to a failed drug test, played well in the burgundy and gold.

"I think everyone has high expectations," Cooley says of the upcoming season. "It's good for me to just get back and start working and try to get better everyday."

While his day job is keeping him busy as the season ramps up, Cooley has a unique hobby that he has turned into a side business. He has a pottery studio in his home, complete with a kiln where he bakes his hand thrown clay creations.

Cooley also owns a pottery shop called The Cooley Gallery in Leesburg.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)