Breakfast links: Cooley closure

So Chris Cooley explained himself Wednesday on the whole I-liked-seeing-Romo-choke thing, and part of the explanation was that he was joking. Which is fine, even if it's also the excuse my five-year-old uses when he says something he's not supposed to say and gets called on it. I've spent a lot of time discussing this whole issue on Twitter since I wrote that what Cooley said was unprofessional. And while I stand by it, there are a couple of things I need to say before I stop discussing it altogether.

First, some people have suggested that what I wrote was meant in defense of Tony Romo, and that's simply preposterous. While the whole thing may not have come to my attention (or anyone else's) had the perpetually-in-the-news Romo not been involved, I nonetheless would have felt the same way if Cooley had made the comments about any other player, or if Romo had made them about Cooley. If professionals act unprofessional, I'm going to call them on it, and the only bias at work there is my bias against adults who insist on acting like children.

Second, the more civil Twitter interactions I've had over this have been very instructive and informative to me about Cooley and his unique place in the hearts of Redskins fans. So while I still don't think he should have said what he said, I have come to a better understanding of why he said it and what it means to his fans that he said it. I still think this kind of dialogue is best kept between and among fans and that the players themselves should stay out of it, but that's just my opinion. I am not a Redskins fan, or a fan of any other team, and because of that it is always valuable for me to learn as much as possible about the way fans of these four teams think. It can only help me continue to work to make this blog a better place for those of you who come here to read it.

So that's it from me on Cooley, who's welcome to keep clowning around on the radio if that's part of his deal. I feel like he crossed a line on this one. Many of you disagree, and that's fine. Not the first time, won't be the last.

Now, let's hit the links.

Washington Redskins

Redskins receiver Niles Paul got fined $20,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Rams punt returner Austin Pettis in Sunday's game. Big bill for a rookie to get, and it doesn't sound as though Paul was too thrilled about it.

Mike Shanahan says Sunday's was the best defensive game the Redskins have played so far in his two seasons as their head coach. He specifically praised the pass rush. Washington's defense is obviously vastly improved and looks legit.

New York Giants

You likely remember Chad Jones, the former LSU safety the Giants picked in the third round of the 2010 draft. Before he ever got a chance to play for the Giants, Jones wrecked his leg and nearly died in a terrible car accident. Well, he turned 23 on Wednesday and celebrated by breaking five seconds in the 40-yard dash. Cool story.

A couple of fresh injury issues for the Giants, as linebacker Michael Boley and running back Brandon Jacobs missed Wednesday's practice with knee injuries. As of now, it sounds as if both plan to practice today and/or tomorrow and play Sunday, and that the injuries to center David Baas and defensive end Justin Tuck are the more worrisome with regard to this week's game.

Dallas Cowboys

A lot of people did a lot of things wrong for the Cowboys toward the end of Sunday's collapse, and Felix Jones was one of them, stepping out of bounds on a fourth-down play when he was 13 yards short of the first-down marker. Jones said he "got caught up in the moment." As Calvin Watkins writes, the question about the Cowboys is whether or not they can handle the big moments.

Rookie right tackle Tyron Smith has offensive line coach Hudson Houck comparing him to Larry Allen. That's some seriously high praise in Cowboys Country.

Philadelphia Eagles

With the Eagles finally ready to start first-round pick Danny Watkins at right guard this weekend, Sheil Kapadia looks at the number of snaps taken so far this year by each of the other first-rounders. He found five others who have yet to play a single down, but of those five, four are out with injuries, meaning that Watkins and Vikings rookie quarterback Christian Ponder are the only healthy 2011 first-rounders who have yet to play. The Eagles' hope, of course, is that the extra month of practice is what Watkins needed to be ready. We shall see.

Oh, and Michael Vick says we can't use "Dream Team" anymore, which... well, we'll see about that too. But Vick's message is the right one for quarterback to be sending to team at this dismal point in the Eagles' season: All that preseason hype is irrelevant, and we need to scrape and fight for our playoff spot like everybody else, so let's get to work and stop goofing around. He's right, but it's going to be tough. You could easily see the Eagles and their permissive defense losing each of these next two games.