NFC • Ex-Utah State star Cooley is without a catch since return.
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Washington • When the Washington Redskins lost their highly productive tight end, Fred Davis, to a season-ending Achilles' tendon tear last month, then promptly re-signed popular veteran Chris Cooley, some observers figured the team might simply plug Cooley into Davis's spot in the lineup and try to keep the offense moving.
It hasn't come close to working out that way. Cooley has been given few chances to contribute to the offense since returning, and the former Utah State star remains without a catch in the four games since the Redskins brought him back. But the team has continued to get some production at the position from Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul; each has contributed a touchdown catch during the Redskins' current two-game winning streak.
"I think the group we have has done almost everything that has been asked of them," Cooley said Monday at Redskins Park. "There's been a lot of big plays made when the opportunities to make plays is there. And as far as having the offense operate, especially the last two weeks, I think we've done an outstanding job."
Paul caught a 29-yard touchdown pass in the Redskins' victory Thursday at Dallas, after Paulsen had a 17-yard touchdown catch during a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles four days earlier at FedEx Field.
Davis suffered his injury while running a pass pattern in the end zone at MetLife Stadium during the Redskins' 27-23 loss to the New York Giants on Oct. 21. He had 24 catches for 325 yards in his seven games this season.
Paulsen had been known as a blocker. But Coach Mike Shanahan immediately named him Davis' replacement. A third-year pro signed by the Redskins in 2010 as an undrafted rookie out of UCLA, Paulsen has a career-best 17 catches this season, 16 of them in the five-game stretch that began when Davis was hurt.
Cooley is the franchise's career leader in catches by a tight end. He was released by the team before the season but called by the Redskins within hours of Davis's injury. He has been a nonfactor on the offense since his return. But Cooley said Monday he isn't particularly surprised or upset about his lack of opportunities.
"I'm not surprised," Cooley said. "I didn't know what to expect. I would have hoped for more at this point. But it's fun to be a part of this team. It's fun to be a part of the two wins in a row. We'll see if we can get hot and make the playoffs."