Redskins Cooley-Davis tandem finally takes shape

It didn't seem to make much sense when the WashingtonRedskins selected Fred Davis in the second round in 2008, given that the teamalready had reliable Pro Bowl tight end Chris Cooley.Sure, there were promises about getting both on the field at the same timeas often as possible, with the pair evolving into an unstoppable tandem. Daviswaited three years to see if that plan would ever work, two under coach Jim Zornand Official San Francisco 49ers Jersey one under coach Mike Shanahan. His only productive stretch came Authentic Philadelphia Eagles Jerseys in 2009, butthat was when Cooley missed much of the season because of an injurynotbecause they were both catching passes every week.Otherwise, the powerful Southern California product with good size and speedwas essentially an underused backup."I was kind of confused a little bit when I was drafted here," Davis said."

I don't think under Zorn's offense it was really a two tight end set. Thisoffense was, but we needed another year in this offense to grow and for thereceivers and running backs to grow and I think for the linemen to grow, too.That's where we are now, but we still have to keep growing and still have to getbetter."So perhaps the time has finally come. Now that everyone is more familiarwith Shanahan's play book, the coaches are bullish on having Davis and Cooleywreak havoc together on the field. The Week 1 win over the New York Giantsoffered a possible glimpse of things to come: Davis had a career-high 105 yardson Cheap Vikings Jerseys five catches, while Cooley snagged two passes for 21 yards despite missingthe entire preseason with a knee that was swollen and sore from offseasonsurgery."What a couple of tight ends enables you to do is to present differentpackages to the defense," Shanahan said. "They're not sure if we're in a threewide receiver set, four wide receiver set, two tight ends, three tight ends. Themore you can do, the more you can keep defenses off balance."

Cooley, who passed Jerry Smith as the Redskins' all-time leader in catchesby a tight end, said he defied team doctors who didn't think he would play untilthe Cheap Ravens Jersey third or fourth game. One would expect Davis' time to dwindle as Cooley getsmore comfortable on the knee, but that's not how Cooley would have it."I've heard so much talk about `Who's the tight end in this offense?"'Cooley said. "And `one of these guys is going to star.' To have guys that canmake plays on offense is what makes you a good offense, so for both of us to bein the gamewhich we both talk about a lotis going to be huge for thisoffense because both of us help each other so much. I think NFL New England Patriots Jerseys it creates a lot ofmismatches for defenses."While there's never been any doubt about Cooley's work ethic, Davis has beenslower to grasp the commitment needed to be a top-notch pro.

This year, he cameto training camp 15 pounds lighter and is taking film study more seriously. Hisfavorite all-time tight end is Tony Gonzalez. He's analyzed Houston's OwenDaniels, who plays in the same system the Redskins run. Rivalry pride keeps himfrom talking up the Dallas' Jason Witten, the only tight end who had a biggerWeek 1 than Davis."I can't say that he's a good tight end, though," Davis said with a smile.Davis says the extra study helps him see the field better and anticipatewhat will happen next. He said he realized he needed to buckle down as hewatched the two other Redskins second-round picks from 2008Devin Jets Jerseys Shop Thomas andMalcolm Kellyfall by the wayside."I think it opened my eyes when Devin got cut," Davis said. "It opened myeyes when I first got hereyou have got different teammates every year.

Anddefinitely, coach Shanahan, he doesn't care if Cincinnati Bengals Jersey you're first round, second round,whateverif you're not playing and not performing, you're not going to behere."Davis couldn't ask for more engaging teammate than Cooley, who came up withthe idea of having the NFL Reebok Football Bears Jerseys tight ends wear tights to practice on Wednesday. Cooley,Davis and third-stringer Logan Paulsen all sported the burgundy "tight endtights.""The intent is really to spread among the whole offense," Cooley said. "Alot of guys were attracted to the look we had today. A lot of guys thought welooked sleek, faster."Besides, said Davis: "Peter Pan wore tights."

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Houston's defense improved and confident

Houston's defense looked nothing like the sieve it was lastyear in a season-opening win over the Indianapolis Colts.Sure, part of that has to do with the new 3-4 scheme, but players andcoaches alike noticed a different feel to the unit.Some call it confidence, others say it's swagger, but however it's termed,coach Gary Kubiak says it comes from the group knowing everyone can make plays.Kubiak also believes the trust the players have in new defensive coordinatorWade Phillips has made a difference in their play."They've got a lot of confidence in the guy making the call when it'sthird-and-5, that's sending the defense in," Kubiak said. "Overall, it's justreal upbeat right now and feeling good out of Week 1 and moving on to Week 2."Houston ranked 30th in the NFL in yards allowed last season with 377 and the267.5 yards passing a game the Texans yielded was most in the league. The Washington Redskins Jersey Authentic Texansface Miami on Sunday after allowing the fifth-fewest yards in the NFL last week.Linebacker DeMeco Ryans loves the 3-4 scheme Phillips implemented when hewas hired by the Texans in January after Authentic Houston Texans Jerseys being fired as the head coach in Dallaswhen the Cowboys started 1-7."I think the mindset is everyone is just eager to do good," Ryans said."


Everyone wants to be great in this defense, and this defense allows us to bemore aggressive. Guys know what to do and how to do it, which allows us to playfast."The unit is focused on pressuring the quarterback, after ranking 23rd insacks last season with 30. The Texans excelled at that task against the Colts,sacking Kerry Collins three times, which led to two fumbles.Mario Williams, the top overall draft pick in 2006, moved from defensive endto outside linebacker this Authentic Seattle Seahawks Jerseys season and had two sacks against Indianapolis.Phillips was impressed with Williams' debut at linebacker and is sure hewasn't alone."I think everybody in the country is, everybody that saw the game and allof our fans and certainly the coaches Washington Redskins Jersey are," he said. "The guy was a dominantplayer in the game and that's what we're looking for from him."Linebacker Brian Cushing thinks the push up front was the key in Houston'simprovement."I think the pressure's obviously been a lot better, which has helpedoverall," Cushing said. "I think any time you have a better pass rush and canget after the quarterback, it helps your overall defense, so that's reallybenefited us so Authentic Tennessee Titans Jerseys far."The Texans were encouraged by Cushing's performance against the Colts, whenhe led the team with seven tackles.


He had 133 tackles as a rookie in 2009, butfinished with just 76 last year when he served a four-game suspension fortesting positive for a banned substance.He seems to have finally recovered from offseason knee surgery that kept himoff the practice field for much of camp."He looks really good," Kubiak said. Authentic St.Louis Rams Jerseys "He's playing very, very hard. Theeffort he played with last week, if he plays like that all year he's going tolead a lot of things."Phillips said he doesn't do anything special to build confidence in hisplayers and Miami Dolphins Jersey there's no secret to why his Carolina Panthers Jersey Authentic defense is Indianapolis Colts Jersey so self-assured already."The guys have done a good job of learning their responsibilities and whatthey're supposed to do and that's part of it," he said. "Then part of it isplaying together and playing well. Our first group really played well inpreseason and I think that helped our confidence going into the season."Houston has also been helped by the addition of defensive end J.J. Watt, afirst-round draft pick this year, and perhaps more importantly, cornerbackJohnathan Joseph and safety Danieal Manning, both picked up in free agency.The pair is hoping to help turn around the league's worst pass defense froma year ago. Joseph thinks Houston's solid play against the Colts will give thegroup something to build on."I think it rolls over and it carries over, as well as does practice," hesaid. "If you go out in practice and make plays, it carries over to the gamejust because it gives you confidence throughout the week that you can do thesame thing on Sunday."

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Led by the new Vick, Eagles have dynamic offense

The Michael Vick that's headed back to Atlanta thisweekend isn't the same quarterback that used to thrill fans inside the GeorgiaDome.That's good news for the Philadelphia Eagles.Vick is a far more complete player than he was during six, mostlyspectacular seasons with the Falcons. As a result, the Eagles (1-0) have one ofthe most potent offenses in Cincinnati Bengals Jersey the NFL."Maturity has been something that I think has been the biggest reason whyI'm able to accomplish the things that I've been able to accomplish today,"Vick said Wednesday. "Just being older, with age Authentic Philadelphia Eagles Jerseys comes Jets Jerseys Shop the maturation process.Everything just happens in time."Vick has come a long way since he signed with the Eagles shortly after hisrelease from prison in 2009. He spent that first season in Philadelphia gettingacclimated to playing football again, learning from six-time Pro Bowlquarterback Donovan McNabb and listening to coach Andy Reid, offensivecoordinator Marty Mornhinweg and their staff.

Once he got a chance to play NFL New England Patriots Jerseys in more than a spot role last season, he madethe most of it. Vick proved he could be quite effective as a pocket passer, andhad his best all-around season. He started for the NFC in the Pro Bowl and wasThe Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year."He's got the mentality right now where he doesn't care how we get it done;run, pass, who scores, who gets credit," Mornhinweg said. "He's only concernedabout winning the next ballgame and what it takes to win the next ballgame."That's his mentality right now."In Philadelphia's 31-13 NFL Reebok Football Bears Jerseys victory at St. Louis in the season opener, theoffense struggled at times. The revamped line had trouble protecting Vick. Therunning game didn't get going until the second half. There were some droppedpasses, and even Vick wasn't all that sharp. His completion percentage (43.8)was his worst with the Eagles.Yet, the final stats showed a 100-yard rusher, a 100-yard receiver and aquarterback who threw for 187 yards, ran for 98 more and tossed a pair ofscores.Not a bad start."At first, it was a little tough in the run game," said LeSean McCoy, whohad 95 of his 122 yards rushing in the fourth quarter against the Rams. "Then,surely it came together."

DeSean Jackson had six catches for 102 yards and one score. He would've hadmore if he held onto a deep pass."We had a hard time at the beginning of the game," Jackson said, "but westayed patient and it came out for us."Vick, McCoy and Jackson certainly are a three-headed monster that will givedefenses fits all season. But the Eagles have plenty of depth with wideoutsJeremy Maclin and Steve Smith, running back Ronnie Brown and tight end BrentCelek.Vick's return to Atlanta will dominate headlines this week. But he'sdownplaying the magnitude of the game on him personally, and is focusing ontrying to get the Eagles to 2-0 for the first time since 2004."This is a business trip for us," Vick said. "Trust me, they're going tocome out and play with Official San Francisco 49ers Jersey an edge. We all know their record at home, they're agreat football team at home and they do some excellent things in Cheap Ravens Jersey the dome. Thereare going to be some things we're going to counteract and we're going to have tobe ready to go when we get out there. This is a great opportunity for us Cheap Vikings Jerseys to getoff to a fast start."NOTES: CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie sprained his ankle in the morningwalkthrough. He's day to day. Joselio Hanson would be the nickel cornerback ifRodgers-Cromartie can't play against the Falcons.  DE Darryl Tapp (pectoralstrain) and QB Vince Young (hamstring) didn't practice. They are also day today.  LB Akeem Jordan (shoulder) had limited participation in practice.

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