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Toughness Is Coles' Trademark

Laveranues Coles battled through persistent toe and hip injuries during the Redskins' recently completed season, yet he still finished with impressive numbers.

Coles' 90 catches ranked seventh in the NFC and he also logged 950 receiving yards and one touchdown.

For the Redskins, the receptions total was the third-best ever by a receiver in a season; Art Monk had 106 catches in 1984 and 91 a year later. For Coles, it was a career high; he surpassed his previous total of 89, set with the New York Jets in 2002.

With the regular season now complete, Coles' injured right toe could be among the storylines of the offseason. Coles suffered a minor fracture in the toe early in the 2003 season, but played all 16 games anyway. This year, the toe was still bothering him at times, according to head coach Joe Gibbs, but again Coles played the full 16 games.

Gibbs says it will ultimately be Coles' decision whether to have surgery on the toe.

"He probably feels like the toe is okay and that he doesn't need the surgery," Gibbs said. "But you get all of the facts, talk to the doctors again, and then let him make the final decision."

The injury aside, the competitive Coles has proven throughout his career that he plays all-out, every play, every game.

He's done as much ever since coming over from the Jets at the beginning of 2003. Coles has now made 64 consecutive regular-season starts, dating back to 2001, which was his second year in the league with the Jets.

Asked last preseason about his relentless style of play, Coles said: "I want to go out and play hard. As an NFL player, you can't have any excuses, regardless of your situation."

Basically, he's lived up to that credo during the Redskins phase of his five years in the NFL.

Think back to 2003: the best single play by a Redskin in 2003 was turned in by Coles on Week 10 versus Seattle at FedExField. Seattle free safety Damien Robinson picked off a Patrick Ramsey pass at the Washington 28-yard line and appeared headed for the end zone to given his team a 21-3 lead early in the second quarter.

Making up a chunk of ground, Coles caught up with Robinson at the Washington 2 and forced a fumble. Offensive lineman Randy Thomas pounced on it in the end zone, keeping the Redskins in a game they eventually won 27-20.

Last year, the Florida State product recorded 82 catches for 1,204 yards, a 14.7 yards-per-catch average. He broke an NFL mark last year when he caught at least five passes in his 19th consecutive game. The streak began in 2002 when Coles was a Jet and ended last season on Week 4 against Tampa Bay.

Coles made it to the Pro Bowl last year and helped the NFC to its wild 55-52 win. Coles, who appeared in his first Pro Bowl, produced four catches for 55 yards.

This season, Coles had fewer big play opportunities-that's evident in his 10.5 yards-per-catch average-but he has been more productive in the short- to medium-passing game. As a whole, the Redskins' offense struggled most of the season as well.

Coles had several notable games, though, including the Week 2 game against the New York Giants when he recorded nine catches for 100 yards and the Week 4 matchup against the Cleveland Browns when he had seven catches for 122 yards.

Coles' only touchdown of the season came in Week 9 at Detroit when he caught a 15-yard halfback option pass from Clinton Portis.

In the second game against Philadelphia, Coles had his best game of the season, recording 12 catches for 100 yards in helping the Redskins nearly pull off an upset of the eventual NFC East division winner.

Probably one of the most memorable plays of the season was when Coles caught a pass across the middle and was leveled by Eagles' safety Michael Lewis. Coles held on to the ball, though, and quickly got up and jubilantly signaled first down, energizing the Redskins and the FedExField crowd.

Despite the ups and downs of the Redskins' offense in 2004, Coles' effort and resourcefulness were constants.

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