Move To Fullback A Success For Chris Cooley
ASHBURN – After fullbacks Darrel Young and Mike Sellers sustained injuries within the first 15 minutes of practice on Thursday, Chris Cooley moved into the backfield and started taking snaps at the position.
He was comfortable enough with the switch that the tight end, in his ninth season, lined up and started at fullback in the 18-16 loss at Dallas on Monday.
“It’s not hard to go back in the backfield and do the exact same thing that I’m doing out of two tight end [sets],” Cooley said. “It’s just another spot to do them from. It’s not hard.”
Cooley played all but a few snaps at the position when the Redskins utilized a fullback, with Sellers, who was active despite a sprained left ankle, in the game on Tim Hightower’s one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
He even had his first carry in 106 games – a three-yard gain the fifth offensive play for the Redskins, a third-and-one. He then had a 17-yard reception over the middle on the very next play, a play-action pass from Rex Grossman with Cooley still lined up as a fullback.
Cooley finished with two carries – the second attempt, later in the first quarter, was stuffed for no gain – and caught four passes for 41 yards. The receptions left him one shy of Mike Ditka for 18th all-time by a tight end at 426.
Cooley said the adjustments helped him gain a better understanding of the playbook, with the additional dimension giving him a better overall grasp on every player’s assignment.
“The thing I told Kyle [Shanahan, the offensive coordinator] is the more responsibility you give me, the more you move me around, the more you let me do things where I have to think, the more confident I end up feeling with the game plan,” Cooley said.
Young, who injured his hamstring, is uncertain to play Sunday at St. Louis, though Sellers appears likely to be available.
The Redskins will continue to use Cooley, Fred Davis and Logan Paulsen in multiple tight end sets, which has been highly successful over the first three weeks. Davis, who has 12 receptions, leads the team with 214 receiving yards.
“I think I created personnel problems just because we’re so versatile out of two tight ends anyway,” Cooley said. “I show our staff that I can move around and I think that naturally creates personnel problems. What do you do? How do you play our two tight end set?”