Redskins TE Cooley hopes to return in 4 weeks

ASHBURN, Va. — There’s a chance Chris Cooley will be back this season after all.

A doctor’s second opinion on the Washington Redskins tight end’s broken right ankle Tuesday gave Cooley hope that he can return to the field in a month.

The two-time Pro Bowl player will have surgery Wednesday, and he gave details via his Twitter feed: “3 pins go in the ankle tomorrow. Hopefully be back in 4 weeks. Thanks for all the support.”

Earlier Tuesday, coach Jim Zorn said Cooley would be sidelined a minimum of six to eight weeks and would probably be placed on season-ending injured reserve. But Zorn also said Cooley was awaiting a “final evaluation” from another doctor to make sure.

The team’s most reliable pass-catching threat, Cooley stumbled to the turf without contact on the first play of the second quarter of Monday night’s 24-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Cooley, who has never missed a game since the Redskins drafted him in the third round in 2004, has 29 catches for 332 yards and two touchdowns this year.

Even if he misses only a few games, the impact will be tremendous on a Redskins offense that is already struggling.

“Much like the other really good players we have on our team, he brings the fight on the field,” Zorn said. “And it’s going to be a big loss for us.”

Zorn also said two backups who play regularly, linebacker H.B. Blades and cornerback Byron Westbrook, sustained knee injuries Monday night. Both are being re-evaluated, but the coach anticipates neither being available for the game at Atlanta following the upcoming bye.

The Redskins are already without right guard Randy Thomas, out for the year with a torn right triceps, and left tackle Chris Samuels, who will likely go on injured reserve this week with a neck injury that has jeopardized his career.

“It all builds, but we have to make the best of it, and we will,” Zorn said. “The bottom line is to win, and nobody really cares that guys get injured. You feel bad, but the team moves on, and the team stays together and the team will put out great effort to pick up that slack.”

Other injuries from the Eagles game include sprained ankles on four players: quarterback Jason Campbell, running back Clinton Portis, fullback Mike Sellers and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. Tackle Stephon Heyer stretched a ligament in his knee and was wearing a brace Tuesday, and defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin sprained an elbow.

The off week will give most of those six players time to heal. Heyer could be the most limited when practice resumes.

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