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Cooley Back In Form As Playmaker




There was a significant Chris Cooley spotting on Week 7 in Indianapolis. In a game the Redskins lost 36-22, Cooley, perhaps for the first time this season, seemed like his old self.

He came up with four catches for 42 yards. One of those catches went for a 13-yard TD from Mark Brunell and another was good for a two-point conversion late in the game.

For the most part, Cooley got off to a slow start--at least as a pass receiver--in the first two months of the 2006 season. He appeared to be out of sync, and the ball just wasn't coming his way.

At Indianapolis in Week 7, the third-year tight end out of Utah State showed flashes of what he can do in the Redskins' scheme.

His re-emergence at mid-season may be coming at just the right time, which is to say, with the Cowboys at FedExField on Sunday afternoon. This is the NFC East rival against which Cooley had his biggest day as an NFL player.

Last Dec. 18, Cooley shredded the Dallas defense for three TDs. Overall that day, the 6-3, 250-pound Cooley produced six catches and 71 yards. More so than those numbers, Cooley proved on that occasion just what a talented runner he can be after the catch. He broke two tackles en route to a 30-yard touchdown.

At 2-5, the Redskins need all the positive contributions they can get on Sunday and to have Cooley at the top of his game would be a real boost. Consider the fact that top playmaker Santana Moss is struggling with a hamstring injury and may not be able to participate.

Here's what Bill Parcells had to say about Cooley earlier this week: "It looks like they have him more involved. He's a player I thought a lot of. We had him down here to visit Dallas prior to the [2004 NFL] draft. He was a guy we were very interested in. When they picked him, I was of the opinion that they got a very good player, and he has turned out to be just that."

Especially in 2005, when Cooley totaled 71 catches, 774 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season.

Brunell said on Wednesday he sees Cooley's game on the rise, adding: "I think we all understand what a threat Chris can be in the passing game and it has worked out in the past few weeks. He had been able to get the ball more and we're certainly not going to depart from that. He's a guy we want to get the ball to all year. He's one of our main guys."

There won't be any sweep over the Cowboys in 2006 but a win on Sunday would do wonders for the outlook of the Redskins and their fans.

Cooley wouldn't mind leading such a turnaround.

"You have a lot of guys on this team who are going to keep working," he said. "No one will get down. We're all a team together. It's a good week for us to have a break. Everyone needs it right now. We'll come back and get ready to play Dallas. It's the biggest game of the year for us."

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