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Cooley Helps Keep His Teammates 'Loose'

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It takes a lot of different personalities to make up an NFL locker room.

On the Redskins, Chris Cooley is regarded affectionately as the team's goofball, or in Mark Brunell's own words, "the knucklehead."

Before the Week 13 contest at St. Louis, Cooley was named a team captain for the game, meaning he had to go to the middle of the field with two other teammates for the coin toss.

Cooley's teammates joked that he should introduce himself to the Rams' team captains as "Captain Chaos."

"So I went out to shake hands with all of the Rams players," Cooley said, laughing. "I put my hand out and said, 'Hey, how are you, I'm Captain Chaos.' They just looked at me and were like, 'What is up with this guy.'

"So now everybody around here is calling me Captain Chaos. It's not too bad of a nickname, I guess."

The last few days have been hectic for Captain Chaos. That happens when you score a career-high three touchdowns and help the Redskins dismantle the Dallas Cowboys 35-7 in a nationally televised contest.

Cooley has hosted his parents, who are visting Washington, D.C., from Utah. He has received dozens of phone calls from friends and former teammates. And ESPN's "Cold Pizza" conducted a Monday morning interview with him from his home in Northern Virginia.

In his second NFL season, Cooley has become one of the Redskins' "cool"-est customers on and off the field. Some of his more cerebral teammates have stopped trying to figure him out, though.

"I think when you try to figure someone out around here, that's when there's a problem," Cooley said. "I'm always doing something different. I try to mix it up on everybody."

His personality fits into a Redskins locker room that is as upbeat as any in recent team history.

"I think a lot of us like to keep it loose around here," Cooley said. "It's a pretty relaxed atmosphere. I think it's great. Our team is really close. We're great friends.

"You get all types of different guys on a team and we all have one thing in common and that's football. You become a family with your teammates. We're playing well together right now."

On the football field, Cooley has become a dependable option in the passing game and has been particularly effective in the red zone. He has six touchdown catches this season and is second on the team in receptions with 64, for 725 yards.

The Redskins were near the goal line on two of Cooley's three touchdown catches in Sunday's 35-7 win over Dallas. Both times, he was able to get loose in the end zone and was seemingly ignored by defenders until Brunell floated the ball in his direction.

By then, it was too late

"I slip inside and once I do that, I kind of get lost to the defense," said Cooley, who scored the Redskins' first two touchdowns of the game on passes of eight yards and two yards.

Cooley's other touchdown, a 30-yarder, made all of the highlights. He caught a screen pass from Brunell, then weaved down the right sideline. He broke two tackles on his way to the end zone.

"My progress is because of our system, our offense, and my coaches who believe in me," Cooley said. "I'm not surprised by what I've done. I know I can make plays. I'm happy about the situation I'm in."

Cooley, who as an H-back lines up at tight end, fullback and even wide receiver, is just three catches short of Redskins great Jerry Smith's record for single-season catches by a tight end.

On the Pro Bowl ballot, Cooley is listed among fullbacks. He led all NFC fullbacks in fan voting with 422,314 votes. Players and coaches also vote to determine the Pro Bowl representative.

With his impressive statistics, could "Captain Chaos" make a bid for the Pro Bowl?

Asked of his chances, Cooley replied simply: "I hope we beat the Giants."

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