Cooley played in just five games last year, posting eight catches for 65 yards. He missed all of preseason with lingering knee soreness and then in Week 6 he fractured his hand.
“I think going on injured reserve was the best option for me at the time,” he said. “To not take the risk [of playing] was probably the best option for my career. I’ll just look forward to getting healthy and playing a full year next season.”
Despite a disappointing campaign, Cooley still was able to set a franchise record for receptions by a tight end last season. He has 428 career receptions, surpassing Redskins great Jerry Smith who has 421.
Cooley also lined up at fullback at times, showing a willingness to diversify his role.
On Monday, after the Redskins' regular season ended, Cooley was asked by reporters if he had any uncertainty over whether he would return to the team in 2012.
“I have no doubt that I’ll be here next year,” Cooley replied. “I’m excited to continue to be a part of this team and continue to play a game that I love. I know I’m a good player and I’ll do everything that I can to come out and play.”
In order to achieve that goal, Cooley was a regular at Redskins Park during the last few months, rehabbing and working out. The 8-year veteran has been mentally and physically focused on preparing for next season.
“I’m very healthy right now, and I’ve been working out much harder than I ever would have in December,” he said. “It’s a different feel for me because, since I haven’t played, there’s no burnout factor for me. So I can spend January and February in the weight room.”
Cooley also talked about the team’s need to improve over the offseason, and put his faith firmly in the corner of head coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen to assemble a competitive roster.
“Everyone here believes in what we’re doing, believes in our head coach, believes in our general manager, and looks forward to what we choose to do,” he said. “It’s always interesting for me. It’s always exciting the course [of action] that we take in the offseason.”