Redskins’ Chris Cooley ready for career-defining season

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.