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Amari Cooper current area of emphasis: Keeping his feet in bounds

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This week Cooper hand eye coordination switches to foot eye coordination.

A major criticism of Amari Cooper’s play this season has been his inability to keep his feet inbounds along the sideline in the process of a catch. It had happened a couple time in the first few games and lasts week cost the Raiders a couple of touchdowns.

The easy answer is field awareness. Knowing where he is in relations to the boundary is key. But Cooper and the Raiders coaches think it’s more of a technique issue. That technique is dragging his feet instead of tapping his toes which is common.

“Yeah, that’s an emphasis for me this week; to drag my foot instead of trying to tap it because my momentum carries my second foot out of bounds, so I just need to work on dragging it.”

This is something Michael Crabtree spoke of after making his game-winning catch in the back of the end zone against the Ravens two weeks ago. It’s a technique that wide receivers coach Rob Moore has implemented. It has paid off for the savvy veteran Crabtree, but the second year receiver Cooper hasn’t mastered it yet.

“We’re a drag team,” said offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. “But sometimes habits are hard to break, so he’s going to continue to work on it. I think Crab alluded to it as well. You’ve done something your whole like and while that has merit too, our philosophy is drag. But he’s doing a terrific job of working on it, week in and week out. Did it last year too. That’s an above the level skill that you’ve just got to continue to work on and stay on top of.”

Even with holes like this still in his game that cost him three touchdowns last Sunday, he still had a career best 138 yards and his first touchdown of the season. That just surpassed the previous career high (137) which he set in the season opener against the Saints.

Showing that the rookie Pro Bowler is taking the next step and still hasn’t reached his ceiling.

“It’s hard to say his route-running [has improved] because it was good when he first got here, but he’s cleaning everything up,” said Derek Carr.

Cooper said himself that he’s a smarter player, mainly due to his ability to read defenses and predict what defensive backs will do. Another area we have seen improvement is drops. His 10 drops last season were the second most in the league. This season through five games, he has just one.

It shows that despite being considered one of the more polished receivers coming out, that he not only has several areas that require constant tinkering, but that he’s making those corrections and showing improvement. That’s vital to being a successful pro.

“We all know people in life that don’t see where they need to improve or don’t want to look at it,” said Musgrave. “But Amari is one of those people that’s very critical of himself and always striving to get better each and every week.”

The Raiders may have escaped the bumbling Chargers while leaving points on the field, but they won’t be able to get away with that so easily against the Chiefs. We’ll see if that emphasis on keeping his feet in bounds shows up and/or is a factor this week.