Today Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper turned 22 years old. Entering just his second season in the NFL, he feels pretty good about his life right about now as well as his situation as the number one receiver on an up and coming Raiders squad.
As a 21-year-old, he accomplished quite a bit. He's already had a 1000-yard season (1070) and made a trip to the Pro Bowl, even in a season which saw him hampered by a nagging ankle injury in the second half. He shared all of that with his quarterback, Derek Carr, including the trip to Hawaii.
Now having completed offseason training, his outlook is considerably bright. And after a year of getting to know his new teammates and coaches, the usually reserved wide receiver has even come out of his shell.
"He's definitely more talkative this year and he's just being himself," said Derek Carr. "He came in the right way just as all rookies should. You just shut your mouth, go to work and just earn the respect. He did that right off the bat."
Even more important than getting a feel for the personalities of his teammates is getting a feel for them on the field of play - most importantly a feel for his quarterback. And so far, through OTA's and minicamp, he and Carr seem to be on the same page.
"I'm able to throw the ball a lot earlier, you know?" Carr said of his chemistry with Cooper. "I'm able to trust where he's going to be at. I'm used to seeing his routes run a certain way."
"Yeah, it's comfort," said Cooper. "I know with every route that I run, I know where Derek wants to go with the ball. I know how he wants to throw it. That will be the best words to describe it."
"It's been a process, definitely. It doesn't happen overnight. It's communicating because you can't run every route in one day. It's just communicating and getting to know him and how he wants to throw the ball and things like that."
One area which most expect Cooper to improve upon are his drops. He was among the league leaders in drops last season, which was a big surprise to most, considering he was a very polished and reliable receiver coming out of college.
Following the team's first minicamp practice earlier this week, head coach Jack Del Rio said it was "awesome to see". AC/DC gave him plenty to be excited about, offering plenty of evidence of the comfort level they have been experiencing these days.