Chris Cooley is a two-time Pro Bowler as a tight end, but he’s no longer a starter, and if he wants to make the Redskins’ 53-man roster this season, he may have to show that he’s versatile enough to contribute not only as Fred Davis’s backup but also as a backup fullback.
Cooley will get that opportunity in Thursday’s preseason opener against the Bills, where he’ll take the place of fullback Darrel Young, who is recovering from a hamstring injury. Cooley has played a little fullback before and says it’s a job he can do well.
“As far as getting the blocks done, I’ve never had a problem getting the blocks done out of the backfield,” Cooley told the Washington Times. “Would you ever look at me as a punishing, Mike Sellers-, Darrel Young-type of blocker? No, but I’ll get the block in the hole and I’m going to get my hat on the linebacker and the running backs always have a chance to make a cut.”
Cooley, who caught just eight passes in five games last season before his year ended with a knee injury, said he’s more mobile now than he was a year ago.
“I couldn’t move well last year,” he said. “I had a lot of fluid in my knee at all times. I had a hard time going two days in a row. I’m continuing to build speed. I’m continuing to get better on my feet. I think my routes have looked better throughout training camp. I feel like I’m getting back to the player I know I can be. I think our staff knows what I can do. I think I know what I’m capable of. That’s what everyone expects of me. I have to continue to provide that on a daily basis.”
And he’ll have to provide it on Thursday at an unfamiliar position.