- The Washington Times - Friday, October 21, 2011

Chris Cooley rested his heavily-wrapped left hand on his lap while he sat at his locker on Friday. Between showing reporters the X-rays of his broken left index finger that he has stored on his smartphone and opining about the Washington Redskins‘ quarterback change, the veteran tight end vowed he’ll be back at some point this season.

“My biggest focus over the next month will be staying in great shape, getting myself ready to play football,” said Cooley, who estimated he’ll miss three to seven weeks.

“I can get myself ready to play at higher level than I was over the first five, six weeks. In the role I was in I was fine. I felt like I was helping this team, but I can get myself ready to play at a high enough level that if we make a playoff run I can be very effective as a threat.”

Cooley fractured his left index finger and irritated the joint when Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha tackled him on a reception in the left flat during the first quarter of last Sunday’s game. His hands were near his chest immediately after catching the ball, and Asomugha delivered a crushing hit. His helmet crunched Cooley’s finger.

The Eagles covered the swing pass differently than they did in previous games, Cooley said. Asomugha switched off to cover him. Cooley had no problem with Rex Grossman’s decision to throw to him in that situation.

“I’ll take that hit all day to make a catch,” Cooley said.

Cooley had a plate inserted in his finger on Wednesday. He showed reporters a picture of the finger without the wrap on. It wasn’t pretty.

He’ll chat about his ailing left knee with orthopedist Dr. James Andrews in Carolina after Sunday’s game. If there’s a silver lining to Cooley’s finger injury, it’s that his surgically-repaired knee has time to heal.

“This has been a weird year for me, not practicing in camp and not playing the way I want to play, and now getting hurt for a month,” he said. “I’ve never experienced something like this, so I’m trying to do the best I can and make the most of it.”

Cooley will be stuck on eight catches and 65 receiving yards for a while. He won’t be on the field to experience whatever change John Beck creates at quarterback.

Beck will be the Redskins‘ seventh starting quarterback since Cooley was drafted in 2004, so he knows what offensive players should expect from such an important switch.

“It gives a team a spark if John plays well,” he said. “I don’t think it changes what we’re doing offensively, and I don’t think it changes the way anyone else is going to play this week. Guys are in the same role. This is the same offense. We’re just looking for a guy to play better.”

Armstrong rooting for the Texas Rangers

Receiver Anthony Armstrong has supported his favorite baseball team by wearing a blue Texas Rangers hat around Redskins Park during the playoffs, so it was a bit strange to see him sporting a Redskins hat on Thursday. Armstrong, however, wasn’t bailing on his Rangers because they lost Game 1 of the World Series to St. Louis.

He was in a rush out the door and couldn’t find the hat because it fell behind his couch. The Redskins hat was a one-day fill in, and he was back representing the Rangers on Friday after their Game 2 victory.

Armstrong, who grew up in the Dallas area, watched Texas’ ninth-inning rally from his home on Thursday night.

“I was just clapping it up,” he said. “I kept it calm because I knew it wasn’t a Series winner. The Cardinals are still a good team.”

Armstrong has never played baseball, but it was clear to him where things went wrong for St. Louis in the ninth inning — first baseman Albert Pujols’ failure to cut off a throw home.

“You’ve just got to catch it,” Armstrong said with a smile. “It hit his glove.”

NT Cofield excelling at ‘pass-blocking’

Nose tackle Barry Cofield has batted down five passes this season. He’s tied with New England nose tackle Vince Wilfork for the lead among all NFL defensive linemen.

His biggest breakup of the season forced a turnover in last Sunday’s game against Philadelphia. He pushed the pocket, and Michael Vick’s throw hit him in the helmet. The ball ricocheted into the air, and free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe caught it.

“I think it’s kind of a knack,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “He’s always in front of the quarterback. He gets his hands up, and he’s not leaving his feet.

“I think it’s a great quality to have because one, from the nose, you’re never going to get a great sack total, but if you can stay in front of the quarterback and disrupt the throws and be in his face, that’s something that we didn’t have last year.”

Atogwe, Stallworth questionable; Westbrook out

Atogwe (knee) could miss Sunday’s game against Carolina after sitting out practice all week.

“It’s just something that we’re watching,” he said. Reed Doughty would likely start in his place.

Cornerback Byron Westbrook was ruled out. He strained his hamstring while covering a punt during Wednesday’s practice.

“It was a freak accident, but I’m working to get better,” he said. “I shall be back.”

Cornerback DeAngelo Hall (toe) fully participated in practice. So did Phillip Buchanon (neck/knee), receiver Anthony Armstrong (hamstring) and running back Tim Hightower (left shoulder).

Receiver Donte Stallworth is questionable with a hamstring injury.

Extra Points

• The NFL fined linebacker Brian Orakpo $15,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Vick in the end zone in the first quarter of last Sunday’s game.

Eagles safety Kurt Coleman was fined $10,000 for striking Redskins running back Roy Helu, who extended to catch a pass, in the head with his forearm and shoulder.

• The league did not fine Eagles defensive end Darryl Tapp for his role on the play in which left guard Kory Lichtensteiger suffered a season-ending knee injury. The Redskins accused Tapp of taking out Lichtensteiger’s knee after the play was over, but coach Mike Shanahan said neither the overhead nor the end zone versions of the coaches’ film captured the play.