It took four seasons and eight weeks worth of walkthroughs, practices and games, but Chris Cooley finally had to sit out a day of work.
Soreness in a quadriceps during Wednesday morning's workout kept Cooley out of his first practice since joining the Redskins in 2004.
"We felt like it was the best option to rest it today and not hurt it further," he said. "I'm very frustrated - it was kind of an inside goal of mine to not miss practice because that's something I take a lot of pride in. At the same time, what happened this morning, the game is so much more important, and a little rest is what I needed."
Cooley, limited to one catch in last week's loss to the New York Giants, expects to play Sunday against New Orleans. He has appeared in 65 consecutive games to start his career.
"It's more painful for him to miss practice than to have a little strain," coach Jim Zorn said. "He reads his body pretty well, and he'll get out there as soon as he possibly can."
The additional three days of rest should have the Redskins at nearly fully strength for the Saints. Linebacker Marcus Washington (hip) didn't practice, and cornerback Fred Smoot (hip pointer) was limited, but Zorn expects them to play. Linebacker Khary Campbell (thigh) sat out, and safety Kareem Moore (hamstring) returned in limited fashion.
Receiver Malcolm Kelly (knee) went through his first full regular-season practice, though he didn't participate in one-on-one drills. In the 11-on-11 plays, he was almost entirely a run blocker.
"He ran a route today, and I saw his long arms come out and snatch the ball, and he looked pretty good," Zorn said. "He doesn't want anybody talking about his legs. He's going to start working hard. It may take him a little time to get comfortable with everything he's doing."
Kelly reported no pain after practice and said he wasn't hesitant in any of his route running.
Zorn said it's too early to decide whether Kelly will be active Sunday, but he was impressed with how well the rookie knew his assignments.
"It's not just about how good he feels," Zorn said. "The thing I noticed is he did a nice job of paying attention all the time he's been down because he didn't make many mistakes. Those are the things I would be questioning - whether he could do the right thing - and he did today, and he has to continue doing it."
The Redskins dodged a scare late in the practice when defensive linemen Jason Taylor and Demetric Evans got tangled up and Taylor was on the ground for a few moments as trainers looked at his still healing right knee. Taylor eventually got up and watched the rest of practice.
"It was cool - I'm all right," he said. "He just got my bad one. That's all."
Good start for Brooks
"I didn't even feel the ball hit my foot I was so jacked up and pumped up," he said. "I was like, 'Oh God, did I hit it?'"
Brooks calmed down from there, averaging a hang time of 4.48 seconds on his seven kicks. Special teams coach Danny Smith's goal is 4.5 seconds, and Brooks achieved that four times (4.72, 4.97, 4.72 and 4.63 seconds).
Brooks had a 34.9-yard net average, below the team goal of 37.5 yards.
"I thought he was solid for his first real game," Zorn said. "We would have loved to seen the ball once or twice go further inside the 20, but he didn't seem to have jitters. I looked into his eyes, and he seemed like a little kid playing in this big game, but he was very confident."
Said Brooks: "After my first punt, especially in the second half, I felt great and I felt I got better as the game went on. I have to figure out how to feel like I did in the second half during the first half."
Davis steps in
Zorn praised rookie tight end Fred Davis, who got most of the snaps in Cooley's place.
"I don't think Fred had a better day all of training camp than he did today both on our [scout] team and getting legit reps because Cooley was out," he said. "I would love to see him put those things back to back to back because that was a very good performance."
Redskins worth $1.5 billion
The Redskins remained the second-most valuable team in professional sports, trailing only the rival Dallas Cowboys in Forbes Magazine's latest team valuation rankings. The team is now worth $1.538 billion, a 5 percent increase over last season. The Cowboys are now worth $1.612 billion.
Washington still ranks as the top team in terms of revenue and operating income. Forbes said the team brought in $327 million last year with an operating income of $58.1 million, according to Forbes. The New England Patriots, New York Jets and New York Giants round out the top five.
The magazine said the average NFL team is now worth $1.04 billion, marking the first time a league has passed the $1 billion barrier.