- The Washington Times - Friday, October 7, 2005

For a kid from Logan, Utah, playing in Denver is as close as he will get to an NFL homecoming. So Washington Redskins H-back Chris Cooley had to secure 60 tickets for tomorrow’s game against the Broncos.

“I told my grandma to put the money in a silver briefcase for when I trade her for the tickets,” Cooley said. “I’m not going to see anybody, but I do want to play well because all those people will be there just to watch me play.”

Growing up, Cooley’s favorite team was the Broncos and his favorite player was John Elway. But his clearest memory of the Broncos is actually a defeat — the Redskins’ 42-10 victory in Super Bowl XXII when Cooley was just 5.

“That was the first year I was a huge football fan and I cried when that game was over,” he said. “We had a big party that day and I had the little shoulder pads on and right when they started to lose, I went outside to play football with my little brother and that was the day I was like, ‘I want to play football.’”

Cooley is coming off a season-high four catches against Seattle last week. He ranks second on the Redskins with nine catches and 115 receiving yards and his yards-per-catch has improved from 8.5 last season, when he caught 37 passes, to 12.8 this year.

“I thought I played a lot better [against Seattle] — it’s been an adjustment for me playing the whole game again,” he said. “Last year, I played about 60 percent of the time, so I was never winded or tired. Now I’m out there all the time and we’re having 12- and 15-play drives. It took me a couple games to feel good on those long drives and into the fourth quarter.”

It’s a snap

Veteran Redskins snapper Ethan Albright is working with rookie kicker Nick Novak and second-year punter/holder Derrick Frost. They’ve replaced the injured John Hall and Tom Tupa, who have a combined 26 seasons of NFL experience.

While saying the snapping part is “the same old, same old,” Albright — who, at 34, is nine years older than Novak and Frost — chuckled while pointing to a picture of his four children.

“I’m teaching [my kids] to be responsible adults and these two guys are trying to figure out where Tysons Corner is, so the conversations are a little different,” he said. “There’s a little bit of a generational gap. [But] on the field, we’re all professionals — I snap it, Derrick catches it, Nick kicks it.”

Novak said the closest he has come to kicking in Denver’s mile-high type altitude was at West Virginia while playing for Maryland. Frost, who once punted for Northern Iowa in a game in Boise, Idaho, is looking forward to the thin air where Broncos kicker Jason Elam tied the NFL record with a 63-yard field goal in 1998 and where former Redskin Ola Kimrin booted a 65-yarder in preseason in 2002.

“The ball flies a little better in higher altitude,” Frost said. “It’s a good chance to put up some decent numbers. But you still have to hit the ball well.”

Harris, Hall still sidelined

While safety Pierson Prioleau will return tomorrow after missing the Seattle game with a strained hamstring, cornerback Walt Harris (strained calf) and Hall (pulled quadriceps) almost certainly will remain out after not practicing yesterday. It will be the second straight absence for Harris, equaling his total from the previous four years. Hall, whom coach Joe Gibbs said is improving, will miss his 11th game in the last 15 and third in a row. Once again, rookies Carlos Rogers and Novak will fill in for Harris and Hall, respectively.

“I should be ready to play on Sunday, but not being on the field all week makes it hard for coaches to play me,” Harris said. “The odds are very slim.”

With Prioleau back, the Redskins might not bother promoting a defensive back from the practice squad as they did last week with Dimitri Patterson, who wound up being inactive anyway.

Cornerback Shawn Springs (shin) and running back Ladell Betts (thigh) didn’t practice in the steady rain but should play in Denver.

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