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Cooley Expects to Return Better Than Ever

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Placed on injured reserve this week, tight end Chris Cooley is disappointed to see his season come to an end but he is also optimistic that he will return as productive as ever in 2012.

The two-time Pro Bowler addressed the media on Thursday, expressing his regret for not being able to help the team down the stretch.

"It was unfortunate to me because I feel like this is a team that has an opportunity to win," he said. "Even in the capacity that I was at, the opportunity to help this team win meant so much to me that I didn't want to spend time out."

Cooley said his knee had been bothering him since the end of last season. He wished he was able to spend the offseason with team doctors but couldn't due to the NFL lockout.

"I felt terrible when we got back from training camp, which I was really disappointed in," he said. "I felt almost embarrassed that I wasn't better from my injury. I feel like that's a letdown to the team, the organization, to the fans, to show up after six months off and not be better."

Cooley, 29, indicated there was no set timetable for when his knee would be fully healthy. That's why he agreed with head coach Mike Shanahan's decision to place him on injured reserve.

"I want to help the team, but I can't hold them hostage," he said. "That's not fair to anybody, and I'm completely comfortable with the decision that was made for me to go on IR."

Is Cooley's future with the Redskins in doubt?

Cooley doesn't think so.

"Every part of me absolutely believes that not only will I continue to play for the Washington Redskins, but I'll continue to be an outstanding player at the position I play," he said. "Our general manager [Bruce Allen] and our head coach believe in me, and I believe in myself."

Shanahan said that he hopes to have Cooley back at a productive level next season.

"Hopefully really productive," Shanahan said.

Cooley wraps up his eighth NFL season, all as a member of the Redskins. In his 108-game career, he has caught 428 passes for 4,703 yards and 33 touchdowns.

In Week 1 earlier this year, Cooley surpassed Redskins great Jerry Smith to become the franchise's all-time leader in receptions by a tight end.

The records don't matter to Cooley anymore. He is singularly focused on one thing: winning a Super Bowl in Washington.

"I have no desire to play for anyone else," he said. "And I have no desire to retire. I absolutely love this game. And the only thing I want to achieve is winning a Super Bowl. This will be the only team I care about the rest of my life and I want to do it with this team."

Cooley said that he will rest his knee and continue to rehab with the team over the next several months.

"I'm completely comfortable with spending the time with our organization, with [trainers] Larry Hess and with Elliot Jermyn and fully rehabbing my knee," he said. "I'm looking forward to being an elite tight end in this league, which I know I am when I'm healthy."

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