Former Pro Bowl tight end Chris Cooley tried his hand at fullback last season and it looks like he will get an opportunity to do so again this year.Cooley, who missed the last 11 games of last season with a broken finger and knee problems, said that he is planning on playing some fullback when the Redskins take on the Bills in the preseason opener on Thursday.Before he was injured last year he played fullback on occasion and he saw extensive action at the position in Week 4 in Dallas when starter Darrel Young was out with a hamstring strain.Cooley was listed as the second-team fullback when the team published its depth chart on Monday.Fullbacks just another part of our offense, Cooley said. We have a move position, the Joe Gibbs H-back type of deal. We call it Tiger . . . its all the same position, theyre interchangeable.I know our offense well and I feel like Im very capable of playing any of those positions.Being able to play another position would greatly enhance Cooleys job security. His salary cap charge is just over 6.2 million and his 2012 salary is 3.8 million. Fred Davis is the starting tight end. The Redskins invested heavily in the wide receiver position this year and there are likely to be many sets with three and four wides. That doesnt leave many snaps for two tight end sets so Cooleys opportunities to get on the field could be limited.Mike Shanahan said the starters will play up to about 20 plays against the Bills. Cooley said that he does not know how much hell play or when but hes ready for anything. And, after not having taken a snap of live football for about nine and a half months, and knocking heads with his teammates at practice last week, Cooley is ready to go.Im definitely looking forward to playing, he said. By the time its two weeks of practice without a game it gets real frustrating.I love football and it makes a lot more sense to me when theres a game plan for another team and not just running plays to get better.Cooley said that he is as healthy as he expects to be. I havent had any reason to be limited or miss practice, he said. I feel great.
Here are the salient points from Jay Gruden’s news conference on Wednesday:
—They want to get newly acquired center John Sullivan ready to play in a backup role this week. “He’s a very bright guy and I think he will be able to help this team in the long run.”
—Gruden said that the plan to cover the offensive line with two starters out is still being developed. He said that he wants Arie Kouandjio to get a “taste” of starting a left guard, which didn’t sound like much of a commitment to have him start. The door was left open for the possibility of Trent Williams starting at left guard although Gruden didn’t seem to like the idea of moving him.
—The team is doing well getting into the red zone and Gruden said that figuring out how to get the ball into the end zone rather than settling for three is “very high” on the list of concerns.
—There are injuries in the defensive backfield, too, but Gruden is not “overly concerned” about them. He likes the flexibility of the group and think that they can fill in with DeAngelo Hall on injured reserve and Bashaud Breeland out for at least this week.
—Jordan Reed has yet to catch a touchdown pass this year in part because teams are defending differently in the red zone. “Yeah, we are seeing a little bit more zone probably and when they play zone, sometimes they bang him when he gets off the line of scrimmage or they send an extra guy to him which is good. It should open up some other people but we just haven’t found the open guy consistently.”
—Will Josh Norman follow Terrelle Pryor, the Brown’s No. 1 receiver who had 141 yards receiving last week? “We’ll have to wait and see.” I wouldn’t expect an answer on this until game time but Pryor is not yet the caliber of receiver who would warrant be trailed by Norman. That’s not really his game, anyway. He is much more effective as a zone corner.
The Redskins were missing three starters at practice on Wednesday as they began preparations to play the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Cornerback Bashaud Breeland (ankle), guard Shawn Lauvao (ankle), and wide receiver DeSean Jackson (knee/ankle) all were out of practice. Breeland and Lauvao are expected to miss the Browns game; Jackson seems likely to play but we will have to see how things develop this week before that determination can be made.
WR Josh Doctson (Achilles) and CB Dashaun Phillips (hamstring) also were out on Wednesday.
Doctson, the team’s top draft pick who spend training camp and all of the preseason games on the physically unable to perform list, was a last- minute scratch for the game against the Giants last Sunday.
“He just didn't feel comfortable, couldn't push off the way he wanted to,” said Jay Gruden.
The injury has been hard to deal with from the beginning.
“We're trying different treatments for him to try to get him back in action as soon as possible,” said Gruden. “He'll take it easy this week, next couple of days then see what he can do on Friday. It's a wait and see kind of thing.”
Limited in practice were DL Chris Baker (elbow/tow), LB Trent Murphy (elbow/shoulder), and DL Kendall Reyes.