We could be on the verge of seeing a heartwarming 2012 redemption story. Or, we could be on the verge of seeing the Redskins desperately try, and fail, to replace Fred Davis.
Either way, this weekend's matchup at Pittsburgh may not give us much of an indication.
When starting tight end Davis went down with a season-ending Achilles injury in Sunday's brutal 27-23 loss to the Giants, Washington was left scrambling, and it turned to a replacement option it cut in August, after he'd spent the entirety of his eight-year career with the Redskins.
There are several reasons bringing back Chris Cooley could benefit the Redskins as they attempt to reboot for the second half of the season. One of them is that he's clearly already very familiar with Washington's system. The learning curve will be minimal to nonexistent.
A second reason is that he's a former Pro Bowler who, when healthy, had a knack for coming up with a big play every now and then. And with Pierre Garcon still out of commission and possibly dealing with a torn tendon in his foot, according to The Washington Times' Stephen Whyno, the Redskins can use all the big-play help they can get when it comes to the passing game.
That's where Cooley comes in—maybe.
Washington already boasts the best rush offense in the league, but its pass offense is mediocre, at best. Two seasons ago, Cooley made 16 starts and accounted for 849 yards and three touchdowns. At the peak of his career from 2005-07, he totaled 21 touchdowns.
But then there was last year's knee injury, which seriously disrupted his momentum and his effectiveness. He played in just five games in 2011 and told USA Today's Nate Davis that he would have been "OK with not playing football this year."
Until an opportunity opened up with his beloved Redskins, that is.
There are a lot of unknowns where Cooley is concerned. First and foremost, we don't truly know how healthy he is, aside from the fact that we know he passed his physical on Monday, according to Davis. We know he most likely will not start for Washington right off the bat.
We know that expecting him to compensate for the 800-ish yards that Davis could have been expected to accumulate is probably too much to ask. But he's a veteran who knows this team, knows this system and knows how to produce in a big spot. And this young Redskins team could always use a little bit of veteran guidance.
In terms of the impact he'll have this weekend against Pittsburgh, the unknowns continue.
Last week against the Giants, tight end Logan Paulsen made four catches for 76 yards; Nathan Paul got just one target and made zero catches. Given the way he's utilized his tight ends thus far, it seems that Robert Griffin III is certainly not going to be going to Cooley every time he's on the field.
It could happen somewhere a few games down the road, but not this weekend—not against the Steelers, owners of the league's second-ranked pass defense.
It's going to take some time to see where Cooley fits into this offense, if at all. And this week, in an important game that will see the Redskins fighting to get to .500 or better in time for their bye week, may not be the best week to experiment.
Don't expect Cooley to be Washington's impact player this week. Maybe later in the season, after he's had time to get into game shape and get re-accustomed to being back on the field—but not this week.
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