The first two weeks of the regular season, tight end Chris Cooley was the forgotten weapons of the Redskins' offense. Entering Week 3 at Houston, Cooley had just three catches for 20 yards.
The last two games? Cooley has eight catches for 88 yards. His grab of a screen pass early in the third quarter resulted in a 34-yard pickup that seemed to energize the Redskins' offense.
Cooley also made a remarkable grab of a 19-yard pass along the sideline, nimbly staying in bounds. He was called for an illegal play because he had earlier stepped out of bounds.
Integrating Cooley into the offense remains a priority for coaches.
More defenses are expected, to roll coverage in the direction of wide receiver Santana Moss, who is fresh off his three-touchdown performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday.
The Giants, the Redskins' Week 5 opponent this Sunday, are aware of the challenges that Cooley poses for their defense. In four games against the Giants, Cooley has caught 14 passes for 95 yards and three touchdowns.
"A lot of people sleep on him," Giants' middle linebacker Antonio Pierce said. "People don't realize how good of a pass-receiving tight end he is. He knows how to read zones real well. He and Mark [Brunell] have a good connection with one another."
Outside linebacker Carlos Emmons will be sidelined with an injury on Sunday, so that means Pierce, LaVar Arrington and rookie Gerris Wilkinson will have to pick up Cooley in pass coverage.
"Cooley comes through for them in many different ways in the passing game, whether it is working against coverage downfield or in their screen game," Giants' head coach Tom Coughlin said. "He is a very versatile player."
Last season, Cooley caught 71 passes for 774 yards and seven touchdowns.
"First of all, he's a real good athlete, he's super smart, he knows just the right place to be and the quarterbacks trust him," head coach Joe Gibbs said. "If you put all of those things together, they know to look for him and go to him if he's in the pattern.
"He was a very valuable guy for us all year long last year, a great producer and he's just going to get better and better. Obviously now it's his third year in, we have a good feel for what he can do and it's a lot for an offense."
-- YODER ADDED TO INJURY REPORT
Tight end Todd Yoder was added to the Redskins' injury report after sustaining an ankle injury during Wednesday's practice. He is listed as probable heading into the game.
Yoder has served mostly on special teams units with the Redskins.
Meantime, defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin was back at practice on Thursday. He had sat out Wednesday's practice due to a hip injury. He is listed as probable heading into Sunday's game against the Giants.