Chris Cooley had to get the brace on his ailing left knee refitted Monday. The swelling has reduced so much since last week that it became too loose.
"I noticed today and was like, 'Aw, sweet,' " he said.
The Washington Redskins' star tight end believes his surgically-repaired knee finally is healing properly. He insisted he will play the regular-season opener against the New York Giants on Sept. 11.
"As long as everything continues, I hope to be back in some capacity on the field next week," he said Monday morning. "I can't imagine not playing against the Giants."
Cooley had arthroscopic knee surgery Jan. 3 but could not rehabilitate under the supervision of Redskins' trainers and strength coaches after the lockout began March 12.
He tried fully participating in training camp practices, but his knee reacted badly and swelled. The issue is not his meniscus.
"I have enough cartilage in my knee," he said. "The problem was over a long period of time I was starting to bruise around it, and the joint around it was becoming so irritated."
Cooley recently visited renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews, who prescribed more rest. He has been running, however, on an anti-gravity treadmill at Redskins Park.
"You zip in this cool thing and it fills up with air all around you and it's like an air thing," he said. "If you take it down to 20 percent of your weight, it feels like you're on the moon. It's awesome. It's NASA technology. Whoever thought of this is a genius."
He planned Monday to run on 50 percent of his body weight but exceeded expectations. On 60 percent of his body weight, he ran four miles at 8 mph.
He hopes to increase by increments of 10 percent until he is able to run on all of his weight. Then he'll return to practice.
Cooley expects to have to manage the pain all season, but he plans on participating in practices during the week. He takes pride in his durability, having rarely missed a practice in more than five seasons before he broke his leg during a game in 2009.
"I would have to be really sore; it would have to be really a problem for me to not practice on Wednesdays," he said.
He'll continue to observe his teammates for the rest of the preseason, and in a way, that's painful, too.
"It's been a long time since we've looked this good in the preseason," he said. "And it's not because we're over-game-planning or doing anything special. Guys are just looking good. Players are fitting, and it seems like everyone is having so much fun. It's hard to stand back and watch that. It's also a positive thing, but it's hard to watch for me."
Boudreau at Redskins Park
Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was the special guest at Monday's practice, spending the afternoon at Redskins Park with his son, Brady, enjoying the football while also soaking in some beneficial tactics.
"There's some great ideas that football does and I think hockey can use, and I'm sure hockey has things that football players can use," Boudreau said. "It's sort of like sharing knowledge, and I think it's pretty interesting."
During Boudreau's first visit to the facility in Ashburn, prompted by an invite from special teams coach Danny Smith, he met coach Mike Shanahan and talked about the variety of different coaches and systems the Redskins go through. Shanahan, naturally, wanted to chat about Joe Sakic, who led the Colorado Avalanche to two Stanley Cups during the coach's time with the Denver Broncos.
Boudreau, who is known for getting to the rink early in the morning, was fascinated by how football coaches have even longer days.
"I think it'd be neat if the players saw what goes on out here - just the specialized things and how the progression of practice goes and the length of it," Boudreau said. "I thought it was quite an eye-opening experience."
• Mike Sellers is expected to return to fullback in the second half of Thursday's game against Baltimore, Mike Shanahan said. Sellers, an 11-year veteran, was moved from fullback to tight end at the start of training camp and played with the reserves in both preseason games. ...
• Right tackle Jammal Brown injured the ring finger on his right hand. He was scheduled for X-rays after practice, but Shanahan did not believe it was fractured. ...
Shanahan said the following injured players won't play Thursday: safety LaRon Landry (hamstring), receiver Brandon Banks (knee), receiver Malcolm Kelly (foot) and linebacker Edgar Jones (concussion). Defensive end Adam Carriker (severe heel blisters) might play. ...
• The Redskins released running back James Davis, who was put on the reserve/left team list after leaving training camp unexpectedly Aug. 15.
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