- The Washington Times - Monday, September 21, 2009

Chris Cooley played a big part in the Washington Redskins’ offense Sunday in a 9-7 victory over St. Louis at FedEx Field. But inside the home locker room after the game, the Redskins’ tight end played some defense.

Asked more than once about his team’s inability to score a touchdown against one of the league’s weaker teams, Cooley, who had seven catches for 83 yards, insisted things were fine.

“We did very well,” he said. “We just weren’t able to punch it in.”

He added: “I thought we were much more consistent today. Up and down the field we had a lot of consistency. Jason [Campbell] did a great job protecting the ball. Other than the Santana Moss fumble, we really protected the ball. We made a lot of first downs.

“Would I like to score? Of course I’d like to score three or four touchdowns, which we should have done today,” Cooley added. “But it didn’t happen, and we still won. And I think the offense has a lot of confidence about what we did. When we watch the film, it’ll look much better than we already think it is.”

At that point, a reporter who just arrived politely prefaced his question about the offense by apologizing if it had already been asked. Affable, chatty and media-friendly most of the time, Cooley by now was clearly irked.

“Do you understand what we did offensively today?” Cooley said, raising his voice and looking at the reporter, a seasoned beat writer. “I’m sorry. I don’t want to offend you, but I thought offensively, other than scoring a couple of points, it was an outstanding football game.”

Someone might have ventured that, other than hitting the iceberg, it was an outstanding trip for the Titanic. But no one did, and the interview ended.

Although the Redskins never reached their destination, they did move in the right direction. Cooley, who last week scored the Redskins’ only offensive touchdown of the season, helped. On the Redskins’ second possession, which covered 83 yards and ended with the first of Shaun Suisham’s three field goals, Cooley caught four passes for 40 yards.

With opponents focusing on Moss, the team’s top wide receiver, Cooley presents a viable alternative. He has, after all, made the last two Pro Bowls.

“We weren’t necessarily trying to go to Cooley,” Redskins coach Jim Zorn said. “Jason did a nice job getting back to him when Santana Moss was covered.”

St. Louis eventually gave Cooley proper attention, but his 18-yard catch in the fourth quarter helped the Redskins maintain possession on third-and-10 and led to the Rams finally getting the ball back on their 4 inside the last two minutes. Four Marc Bulger passes fell incomplete, and the Redskins ran out the clock.

Washington might be getting closer to finding a solid No. 2 receiver to complement Moss, and it might be second-year wideout Malcolm Kelly. Starting for the second straight game, Kelly was thrown to six times and had four catches for 41 yards, including a 16-yard grab on second-and-15 on the Redskins’ final drive.

On the game’s first play, Kelly barely missed a deep pass that Campbell slightly underthrew, allowing cornerback Jonathan Wade to knock it away.

Limited to three catches and five games because of a knee injury during his rookie season, Kelly said he’s becoming more comfortable every week. He said he talks to receivers coach Stan Hixon “all the time” about getting the ball more, but he will wait before suggesting it to Zorn.

“Until I make it to the Pro Bowl, that’ll be the time I go up to him and tell him, ‘Hey, man, it’s open, it’s open,’ ” Kelly said.

The Pro Bowl?

“Maybe not the Pro Bowl, maybe down the road,” he said. “Maybe next year at some time. But, you know, I’m still treating it like this is my first year.”

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