Rick Snider: Cooley is the life of the Redskins' locker room

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,Rick Snider

Chaos has returned to Redskins Park, and that's a good thing.

It wasn't tight end Chris Cooley's Pro Bowl resume that excited teammates when the tight end re-signed with the Washington Redskins on Monday. It was his "Captain Chaos" persona.

The NFL is entering its midseason grind. It's too early to get excited or despondent over postseason chances, but after three months of nonstop work, the Redskins eagerly are awaiting their Nov. 11 bye.

It's a lot of same old with the same guys. The lunchtime card game chugs along. The pecking order of the hallway couches has long been established. Nobody crowds Trent Williams in the middle. Santana Moss gets a corner.

Players truly are focusing solely on the next game, so everything feels the same. On Wednesday, that meant study sessions and practices for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Cooley's return brought a new twist, though. There have been no epic welcome back pranks ... yet. Cooley nervously awaits them.

But certain players always seem to attract laughter. There was once a player who might or might not have drawn on the face of a sleeping kicker, who went to a meeting directly from the overnight flight unaware he now looked like a cat. Mice soon were found in lockers, which led to a snake in the locker room.

Let's just say things liven up around particular people. Cooley is probably the most liked player in the locker room since offensive tackle Russ Grimm retired in 1992. Guard Shar Pourdanesh, deep snapper Trevor Matich and running back Clinton Portis were favorites over the past two decades, but none was close to Cooley's widespread popularity.

Everyone on the team likes Cooley. Sometimes players barely know offensive or defensive reserves, but Cooley was as popular in the locker room as he was in the stands, where his jersey is widespread. That's why teammates welcomed their old friend, who was the longest-tenured Redskins player before he was released at the end of the preseason.

"I love these young guys because they keep me young, but it's always great to have some guys who have been here awhile," Moss said.

Indeed, Cooley nestled into his old locker after rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins generously moved. Seven weeks away meant little. Some teammates thought he was in the building to tape his weekly radio spots before learning he had re-signed.

Cooley said things felt normal and it was a good feeling.

"I didn't want to be done. It wasn't my choice," he said. "[The break] was time to do whatever I wanted, and it was a good break ... but this is how I hoped it would play out."

Quarterback Robert Griffin III filled Cooley's void. Everyone likes the rookie, though it doesn't hurt that he's the team's best player and is humble enough not to admit it. That was Cooley's role for many years. Now he has a supporting one. Oh well, they give out Oscars for that, too.

Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or email rsnider@washingtonexaminer.com.

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