Since returning to the Redskins last month, Chris Cooley hasn't played a major role in the team's game plan. In fact, the veteran tight end has only been on the field for 29 of 140 snaps – or about 21-percent of the plays.
It's been a major adjustment for one of the franchise's most respected figures, but he's coping with the role reduction "just fine", he said this week.
"I'm not going to get frustrated," Cooley said. "It's about everyone doing what they have to do."
And for Cooley, that means patiently waiting for the chance to reprove himself.
The 30-year-old was released in August after eight seasons in Washington but rejoined the team last month after No. 1 tight end Fred Davis was lost for the season to an Achilles' tendon injury.Since Davis' departure, Logan Paulsen has assumed the primary pass-catching responsibilities among the tight ends, hauling in nine of the 14 balls quarterback Robert Griffin III has thrown to him for a total of 112 yards.
Cooley's role, meantime, has fluctuated, making it difficult to figure out how Mike and Kyle Shanahan intend to use him the remainder of the season.
Against the Steelers, Cooley started and played 19 snaps on offense. Making his first appearance in an NFL game in 53 weeks, Cooley was targeted by Griffin once and did not catch the pass.
Against the Panthers, Cooley played only 10 snaps – nine fewer than Niles Paul and 69 fewer than Paulsen. Again, Cooley was targeted just once and finished without a reception.
"I'm extremely competitive, and I want to be on the field all the time and I have a ton of confidence in what I can do as a football player," Cooley said. "But I'm also a part of this team. To make a team as good as it can, you have to understand where you are and understand your role and contribute in whatever role you can help."
"And that," he added, "is what I'm doing. I'm handling it just fine."
Kyle Shanahan said Cooley has done what has been asked of him.
"Cooley has done a solid job," the offensive coordinator said. "We did a lot of [the same] stuff in training camp, but we've definitely added to it. That's why it was so important to bring a guy back like Cooley, who had some experience [with] what we were doing, but was also is smart enough and works at it hard enough to be able to catch on quickly. He's executed assignments and has done a solid job."