- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 11, 2011

During the week of practice leading up to the season opener, Chris Cooley played it cool on his status as Mike Shanahan got into football mode of revealing the least information possible.

“I’m getting better every day,” Cooley said Friday.

But when the Washington Redskins‘ offense stepped onto the field Sunday, Cooley was in at tight end.

His status was questionable following offseason left knee surgery, and he missed all four preseason games.

While LaRon Landry (hamstring) was inactive, having Cooley provided the Redskins with another veteran amid a young receiving corps. He and Fred Davis started the game in a two-tight-end set.

Mike Sellers, who saw time at tight end, fullback and H-back in the offseason, was inactive against the Giants.

Cooley was the target of a Rex Grossman pass on the Redskins‘ second drive, but he didn’t make his first catch until 2:04 left in the second quarter — a 15-yarder to tie for most among tight ends in franchise history. The catch was the 421st of his career.

Well before that, Cooley made an impact in the running game. Cooley, who tipped the scales at 234 pounds Friday, was able to show a little bit of why the lightest weight of his pro career could be beneficial.

“The responsibilities that the tight end has in the run-blocking scheme are a little bit different because of the zone blocking,” he said. “It’s more about quickness and being able to get your hands on guys and be able to stay with guys.”

Cooley was prominent in helping Tim Hightower on some runs, especially on the Redskins‘ first scoring drive that ended with Hightower’s 1-yard touchdown run.

Pentagon at center of ceremony

As several Redskins noted, Week 1 and the start of the NFL season bring heightened intensity and emotions every year. Sunday in particular delivered another level of that with the 10th anniversary of 9/11, especially as the Redskins hosted the Giants at FedEx Field.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was the Redskins‘ honorary captain and stood at midfield to loud “U-S-A” chants. Robert De Niro narrated a taped message, but the more chilling moments came as video of Nathan Clark playing taps at the Pentagon ceremony was shown on the video screens. Fans cheered that, waving the miniature American flags given out upon entry.

In addition to Powell, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was in attendance.

What’s your fantasy?

In addition to the usual down and distance and clock that usually adorns NFL scoreboards, Sunday was the debut of a new kind of statistic becoming a regular piece: fantasy.

The league is requiring stadium operators to include fantasy football stats this season, and FedEx Field was no exception, placing them in the upper-right-hand corner of the video board above two advertisements.

Fantasy football has grown into a $3.4 billion industry, leading to out-of-town stats getting the same treatment as out-of-town scores.

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