The Washington Times - October 26, 2011, 07:52PM

Notes, quotes and observations from Wednesday at Redskins Park.

Coach Mike Shanahan won’t have to decide anything about TE Chris Cooley’s future with the Washington Redskins for several months, but he’s optimistic the veteran tight end still has some productive years left in him.

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“I’m hoping to have him back playing at a very high level,” Shanahan said.

That’s noncommittal, of course, but there’s not much more Shanahan can say this early. It’s going to depend on how healthy Cooley’s left knee is next spring. Other factors will be in play, including salary cap considerations, but the health of the knee is most important. If Cooley proves he can still produce, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be back.

I’d like for Cooley get healthy and stick around because I enjoy covering him. He’s the best quote on the team. He’s entertaining and, as someone who has been around for eight years, has a unique perspective of the franchise’s recent woes and fleeting playoff experiences. His insight always is terrific.

He also is dedicated to his craft and the team’s goals. I was thinking Tuesday about how excited he was about the Redskins’ 3-1 start and the opportunity they had to establish some clout against Philadelphia. Just the thought of pulling ahead in the division race had him beaming. If he were around long enough for the team to become a contender, he’d appreciate it more than anyone. It’s a shame that’s uncertain at this point. Regardless, his name will hang from the facade of FedEx Field one day.

The broken left index finger Cooley suffered on Oct. 16 was going to keep him out for several weeks, anyway, so he agreed to be shut down for the year and focus on getting his knee healthy. Renowned orthopedist James Andrews evaluated Cooley’s knee earlier this week.

“He thought it was in the best interest of Chris to go on IR,” Shanahan said. “Give it a little rest, give him a chance to rehab it, not overpush it like he has been doing. Obviously he took the doctor’s advice, and we agreed with it.”

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Second-year TE Logan Paulsen replaced Cooley as the No. 2 tight end last Sunday against Carolina. His two receptions for 48 yards were his first catches of the season.

“He’s such a good influence on me just in terms of his preparation and his knowledge of the game,” Paulsen said. “Hopefully I can take some of that information that he’s given me and apply it to this weekend.”

Paulsen benefited from two play-action passes on which Carolina’s linebackers played the run. It will be interesting to see how teams defend Paulsen as he amasses playing time and the Redskins use him in different ways. Right now, most of the tape on him is as a run blocker.

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ILB London Fletcher’s streak of 214 consecutive regular-season games is in serious jeopardy this week because of the hamstring injury he suffered in the fourth quarter against Carolina last Sunday. He did not practice Wednesday.

“It’s a long way between now and Sunday,” Fletcher said. “Just continue to try to get better and see how I feel.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers CB Ronde Barber’s 215-game streak is the longest among active players. Tampa Bay has its bye this week, so Fletcher would move back into a tie if he plays. To me, Fletcher’s streak is more impressive because he’s involved in much more contact inside than Barber is. It’s just incredible.

Fletcher wasn’t keen on talking about it Wednesday in part because he doesn’t want to concede sitting out the game. Perhaps we’ll get to revisit the streak next week in more depth if it actually ends.

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CB DeAngelo Hall (hip), LT Trent Williams (right ankle) and backup QB Rex Grossman (pneumonia) also missed practice. Grossman was released from the hospital yesterday and was expected at Redskins Park on Wednesday evening to watch film, Shanahan said.

Six players were limited in practice: Safeties Oshiomogho Atogwe (knee) and Reed Doughty (chest); CBs Josh Wilson (hamstring), Byron Westbrook (hamstring) and Phillip Buchanon (knee/neck); and WR Donté Stallworth (hamstring).

FS Kareem Moore (knee, physically-unable-to-perform list) began practicing with the team.

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Despite being sacked three times on 42 dropbacks Sunday, QB John Beck said he “felt protected pretty well.”

“I felt like I could move around in the pocket and get to my second and third reads,” he said. “For only having a week of practice, this unit—it’s a big difference now when we step into this week.”

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Rookie WR Leonard Hankerson is eager to move forward from the mess that followed his first NFL play last week.

RB John Beck threw an interception after expecting Hankerson to run a different route than he actually did. Things really unraveled afterward when Hankerson engaged critical fans on Twitter.

“I shouldn’t have even tried to entertain the fans by talking [on Twitter] about that play,” he said. “It wasn’t no fun.”

Sounds like Hankerson learned an important lesson. Tuning out the outside criticism is an important part of being an NFL player. Good thing for him he stopped short of what LB Robert Henson did in 2009.

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The Redskins did not promote sixth-round rookie RB Evan Royster from the practice squad to fill the roster spot vacated by injured starter Tim Hightower. Instead, they signed interior OL Jonathan Compas and TE Dominique Byrd to the 53-man roster.

 “It’s not frustrating,” Royster said. “I’m just going about it like I go about every week. Every week I’ve been ready to play. That’s not saying I’m going to, but I’m still ready to. That’s kind of what being in this position kind of holds for you.”

There’s still a chance Royster could be promoted for Sunday’s game, so I’ll wait to say this doesn’t reflect well on how much coaches think he has progressed since the preseason. The Redskins would have to make a corresponding roster move to promote him. Shanahan said FBs Darrel Young and Mike Sellers are the emergency third and fourth tailbacks, respectively. 

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WR Santana Moss (broken left hand) said doctors told him he’ll miss three to six weeks. Shanahan said on Monday that the timetable is five to seven.

“I hate to not be out there,” Moss said. “I feel like you let somebody down when you can’t be out there with the guys that depend on you. But the only thing I can do is think positive about the situation.”

I’m eager to see how WRs Terrence Austin and Niles Paul respond to their opportunities for increased playing time. Both have proven they have reliable hands. Austin’s shiftiness out of the slot was an asset in the preseason. I’ll have more on Paul on Thursday.

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The Redskins signed RB Tristan Davis to the practice squad and released practice squad G John Malecki.

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Here are links to the OFFENSE and DEFENSE film reviews from Sunday’s loss to the Panthers.