Rookie Diary: Chris Cooley

I've always been able to catch and that's always been the best part of my ability. But I've never caught balls better than I am right now. I haven't dropped anything and there have been a couple times in games where I can feel a guy on me and the ball will stick in my hands and I get up and think, 'All right, I caught that one.'

There are tighter fits than I had to worry about in college. Now I'm catching the ball with guys on me almost every time. That's been the biggest chance since last year. I can tell when someone is on me and when it's going to be a tight catch. It helps to find the soft spots in a zone.

There are a couple of things that go into finding those spots. You have to know what's going on in the play. Where are our players going to be? You have to know what coverage you're facing and what holes fit into that. It's a lot of stuff. And it's a feeling too. When guys manuever around and you don't know where they're going to be, you just have a feeling when you're open and you sit down.

Against Pittsburgh I got hit hard, but it didn't hurt. Anytime I catch the ball it doesn't really hurt; I don't feel it. In that game I never saw the guy coming. I was on my back getting up before I knew what had happened. It ended up not being too bad. When I watched it on film I was like,' Oh, man.'

It's funny because anytime something happens like that and you've made a good play and they hit you like that, you want to do something. But usually I just go back into the huddle and try not to make a scene. Everyone said I should have done a first down sign.

Catching balls like that has to be natural because you can't take hits like that and catch balls in practice. It's tough to work on anything like that.

I was happy to hear what Joe Gibbs said about how he would have used me more had he known I would do this. Anytime as a rookie that you can make an impact, you have to feel happy. Especially for me.

But I had to build trust in the coaching staff and the rest of the team before I could expect to be a playmaker or have them give me a chance to play. I know that if I execute plays well in a game and it works out, then every week I get another play on top of what I had the week before. It's slowly developed into me being more a part of the offense.


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