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Washington Redskins: Chris Cooley Set to Benefit from Fred Davis Situation on Astini News

If there is one position the Washington Redskins can look at with some level of comfort, it is their tight ends. Before last season, Chris Cooley was a rock on offense and Fred Davis showed great promise despite questionable quarterback play.

The potential loss of Davis for the season means Cooley could see a return to form in 2012.

It was not so long ago that Cooley was considered among the elite tight ends in the NFL. In his first four seasons, Cooley caught 231 passes for 2,608 yards and 27 touchdowns without missing a single game. In the four seasons since, he has caught 197 passes for 2,095 yards with just six touchdowns.

However productive Cooley has been in the last four years has been overshadowed by the 20 games he has missed since 2009.

When Cooley suffered a broken ankle midway through the 2009 season, the Redskins turned to Davis to pick up the slack. Including the game in which Cooley was injured, Davis caught five passes per game in 10 starts while scoring six touchdowns.

Cooley rebounded in 2010, but fans were adamant in their desire to see Davis on the field more.

Last season, Cooley played in just five games and opened the door for Davis to catch 59 passes for 796 yards and three touchdowns. It was the four-game suspension Davis incurred to finish the season that opened the door for a potential position battle this season.

Davis was franchise tagged for the 2012-2013 as a precaution as much as a testament to his value.

Along with left tackle Trent Williams, Davis was suspended for the final four games of the 2011-2012 season after testing positive for banned drugs earlier in the year. If either player violates the NFL's drug policy again, he'd face a season-long suspension.

The incident stripped Davis of whatever leverage he had in upcoming contract talks, and left him with little choice but to accept the tender. Given the risk, the Redskins need to keep Cooley in the fold and in shape in case Davis is lost for the season. 

Though he is not the freakishly athletic, big-play threat that Davis is, Cooley is dependable and still very capable of being a go-to target for Washington.

Cooley rumbled for a 66-yard touchdown despite being seen as an average athlete by comparison, and he ran over several Dallas Cowboys defenders in a three-touchdown performance in 2005.

The past is the past, but Cooley is just as much of a threat now as he was a few years ago.

It isn't as though Cooley is over the hill or incapable of being a featured tight end anymore. The direction of the offense merely favored Davis, and untimely injuries forced Cooley to take a backseat to the young tight end.

With Robert Griffin III in line to be the Redskins' franchise quarterback, Cooley and Davis will most assuredly be featured heavily on offense in the coming season. Tight ends are a quarterback's best friend, and Cooley has the inside track to assume that role in the coming season.

Especially if Davis can't keep his nose clean.

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