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Cooley on reduced role: 'I'm handling it just fine'

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Cooley on reduced role: 'I'm handling it just fine'

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."

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Redskins Week 3 injury report: Five are listed as questionable

Redskins Week 3 injury report: Five are listed as questionable

The Redskins had a tough, physical game against the Rams last Sunday and it shows on the team’s injury report. Five players are listed as questionable for the coming game against the Raiders at FedEx Field.

TE Jordan Reed (chest), RB Rob Kelley (ribs), ILB Mason Foster (shoulder), S Montae Nicholson (shoulder), and CB Josh Norman (shoulder) are the players who are questionable.

RELATED: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS' WIN IN LA

Of those players, Reed was the only one to miss a practice this week. He was out on Wednesday and was back on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday. The Pro Bowl tight end told reporters in the locker room that he will be in the lineup on Sunday.

There is particular concern about Kelley’s injury. He is likely to start as he usually does. But CSN is reporting that the team will have four running backs on the game day active list instead of the three they went with in Weeks 1 and 2. Mack Brown will dress for the Redskins after being inactive in both previous games.

MORE REDSKINS: A STRONG START FOR SMITH BUT MORE IS NEEDED

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Pierre Garcon was fantastic vs. the Rams, but don't lament his departure just yet

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USA TODAY Sports

Pierre Garcon was fantastic vs. the Rams, but don't lament his departure just yet

Thursday night's Rams-49ers game was surprisingly fun. It was also unofficially the Check Out All These Ex-Redskins Now Playing or Working in California Bowl.

Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan, two former Washington offensive coordinators, are now in charge of the two teams. Old 'Skins like Aldrick Robinson, Derek Carrier and John Sullivan, meanwhile, were a part of the on-field action.

It was Pierre Garçon, though, who pushed Burgundy and Gold fans to take their phones out of their pocket and pen sad tweets. That's because the 31-year-old wideout caught seven Brian Hoyer passes (that's impressive on its own, by the way) for 142 yards vs. Los Angeles on Thursday Night Football.

And while his team lost 41-39, Garçon didn't deserve to with plays like this:

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Even with that standout performance, however, Redskins fans shouldn't be cursing the franchise for letting Garçon go. Not yet, anyway.

This past march, the veteran left D.C. after five seasons to sign with San Fran. His deal was a rich one: five years for $47.5 million ($17 million guaranteed at signing). The Niners can get out of it after two years, but it still is a sizable contract even with that potential exit.

That kind of money is the first thing those who miss Garçon should think about. Now, the Redskins didn't exactly handle their negotiations with him that smoothly, but in the end, unless he gave Washington a nice discount, he just would've cost a lot to keep.

Secondly, it's easy to slam the 'Skins for losing Garçon while Kirk Cousins and Co. have stalled through two games in 2017. But the reason that's happening thus far has more to do with Cousins' inaccuracy in Weeks 1 and 2 and an offensive line that's not at the level it should be than with that familiar No. 88 not lining up outside anymore.

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Would Garçon have made a difference for the Redskins against the Eagles and Rams if he were still here? Yeah, probably. But when Jay Gruden's unit starts operating at its normal speed and precision — and it will — the upset voices lamenting Garçon's departure will get quieter.

This is nothing against the guy who was the NFL's 2013 receptions leader and who's well on his way to another productive campaign. It's just that it feels premature to make the connection that allowing him to move on is what's ailing the Washington offense, or that it was a disastrous decision. 

Give Garçon's far cheaper replacements (Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson) more time. Wait for the quarterback and his linemen to sync up again. In a league with just 16 games, that's very hard to do, but let's see if those in the area long for Garçon in December as much as they are currently longing for him in September.