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Ex-Redskins TE Chris Cooley says comeback might be delayed until season begins

Former Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley remains realistic about his possible comeback -- and knows it might not happen until after the season begins.

Cooley said during his show on ESPN980 that he did talk to Arizona before it signed Jermaine Gresham. But he said doesn't anticipate a team signing him before training camp. And he added that he doesn't want to get too excited about whether or not it will happen.

"I'm not holding out hope," said Cooley, who last played in the 2012 season.

He will be in Richmond this week for Redskins training camp, which begins Thursday. Even if the Redskins were interested, Cooley said the team was prohibited from signing him, which a team source confirmed. Cooley said a team can't sign a player in the same year that it's already paying for a different service. In addition to his daily radio show, Cooley serves as an analyst on Redskins games.

"I will absolutely continue to work out," Cooley said. "And look towards realistically a later date in someone's camp after an injury were to occur or even into the season, which I would be fine with. It would probably have to be a team that realistically has a chance of winning this year. Teams that don't have a chance of winning don't sign 33-year-old tight ends."

Cooley had talked about a possible return on his show during the offseason, when he started working out a lot more. Then, he told the Washington Post last week that he wanted to play again. Cooley said some coaches from other teams have asked him in the past two years why he stopped playing after the 2012 season. Cooley had been cut before that season only to return following a Fred Davis injury.

At the time Cooley said he only wanted to play for the Redskins. Now, he'd be willing to play for anyone. The Redskins all-time leading pass-catcher among tight ends with 429 remains confident.

"If I had an opportunity to compete in training camp, I could be probably a lot of teams second tight end," he said. "I feel very confident in saying that and I feel very confident in my ability to go through a season.

"I almost feel uncomfortable saying I know I can play now just because of how it sounds. It almost sounds arrogant, but it is how I feel. I got two more years, maybe. So why not take a shot at it and we'll see where we go."

One team he's not anticipating a call from: Atlanta, where his former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan now coaches. Cooley said he liked both Kyle and Mike Shanahan. But they disagreed on what the veteran tight end could still do.

"There was a vast understanding amongst that staff that I was completely done," Cooley said. "In 2012, I was blatantly not given opportunities to be on the field. ... A lot of teams thought I was hurt. I really wasn't given much of an opportunity."