A look at the Redskins by position entering training camp, which begins Thursday:
The skinny: Chris Cooley is coming off a broken ankle that sidelined him for nine games. But he should be completely healthy. Fred Davis emerged in his absence, giving the Redskins two pass-catching tight ends. Rookie Dennis Morris, if he makes the roster, is the likely blocking tight end (if he ever plays). Mike Sellers can play here in a pinch.
Cause for optimism: Though the top two haven’t changed, there is a major difference thanks to Davis’ play in Cooley’s absence. Davis always looked great in seven on sevens in practice, showing his athleticism. But in games he didn’t seem focused. Minus Cooley, he was and he revealed his talent. Davis runs well after the catch – he looks like a receiver in a tight end’s body. He scored six touchdowns on 48 receptions. There’s no reason to think Cooley won’t be the same player he was before the injury. Will they both catch 60 passes? Maybe not. But both will be threats and present matchup problems.
Cause for concern: I’ll poke at some minor issues, but they’re really not worse. However, Davis needs to stay focused and can’t return to his form from his first season and a half. They lack a proven blocking tight end, but Davis improved in this area (Cooley has as well). Neither is a stud blocker. How will they handle if one of them isn’t getting as many passes their way? They get along well, but both now expect to put up good numbers.
The verdict: Better. Based on the spring, Davis doesn’t look as if he’s planning to slow down. He's always looked good in those situations because of his athleticism, but now, after last season, it should be a precursor of things to come and not a tease. With both he and Cooley now threats, look for the Redskins to take advantage – especially with so many questions at receiver and out of the backfield. I’ll be curious to see how Kyle Shanahan uses these players and how often they’re on the field together in pass situations.
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