Dallas tight end Jason Witten went wild in Week 1. Green Bay tight ends Bubba Franks and Donald Lee caught touchdown passes in Week 2.
If ever there were a time for Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley to ignite his season, it’s Sunday against the woeful New York Giants‘ pass defense.
The Giants are allowing an NFL-high 310.5 yards passing a game, and they have been particularly inept against tight ends. Witten caught six passes for 116 yards and a touchdown in Week 1, and Green Bay’s Lee and Franks combined for eight catches, 55 yards and two touchdowns last week.
Witten torched the Giants for receptions of 15, 23, 18, 10, 12 and 38 yards.
“I’m sure they know what they have to prepare for,” Cooley said after practice yesterday at Redskin Park. “I expected to have a big game the last two weeks, but it hasn’t happened.”
Cooley has just three catches in two games.
This week he faces strong-side linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka, who is new to the position, and weak-side linebacker Kawika Mitchell, who has been beaten several times on crossing routes.
“It seems like they’re letting guys get a couple of steps on them during those routes,” Cooley said. “But you know if a team has been exploited, it’s something they’re working on and getting ready for.”
Cooley has 23 catches in six games against the Giants.
“The tight end down the field hasn’t been as big of an issue as some of the other issues,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “But certainly, [Cooley] will challenge us. If you study what they have done, he has great versatility. They’ll play him short. They’ll play him long. They’ll play him up the seam. We certainly have to prepare for that.”
Aside from his 16-yard touchdown catch late in the first half Monday against Philadelphia, Cooley hasn’t been a big part of the passing game. In Week 1, Miami kept its safety in the middle of the field to double-team Cooley, and Jason Campbell threw his way three times. Last week, Campbell targeted Cooley three times on the first drive and five times in the game.
“He won’t get frustrated — he’ll just come back to the huddle and be like, ‘J, be alert, next time we run this play or get this certain kind of coverage, I might have an opportunity to be open,’ ” Campbell said.
Even though Cooley should be a big part of the game plan, Campbell stressed the importance of not forcing throws into coverage.
“Chris is most definitely a great receiver for us, but at the same time, when you’re dropping back, the one thing you don’t want to do is get held up and try to throw the ball to certain guys based on what their defense did the week before,” Campbell said.
The Redskins addressed their backup guard situation yesterday by signing veteran Rick DeMulling. The team released receiver Shaun Bodiford.
DeMulling and Keydrick Vincent worked out for the Redskins on Wednesday, and both passed physicals. DeMulling, 30, has 53 career starts. After starting his career with Indianapolis, he was a part-time starter the last two years in Detroit. The Lions released DeMulling on Aug. 27.
DeMulling was visiting family in Spokane, Wash., when he got the call on Tuesday. He flew to the District with a stop in Denver, arriving at 1 a.m. Wednesday. Last week, he worked out for New England.
“I was relaxing and biding my time; I figured it would happen sooner or later,” he said. “The hardest part is the conditioning. No matter how much you work out, it’s hard to get out there with the pads on again. But it was also fun to be back on the field.”
After going through the entire practice Wednesday, Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot (hamstring) was limited yesterday. Defensive end Phillip Daniels (foot) did everything, and safety Vernon Fox (groin) did limited work.