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Raiders special teams benefitting from one knee-jerk cut by another team, Pharoh Cooper should be the next

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NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Oakland Raiders Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This time a year ago Pharoh Cooper was being named to the Pro Bowl and first team All Pro as a return specialist. Today he was waived by the Rams. What a difference a year makes.

The former 4th round pick out of South Carolina was waived Tuesday, two days after the guy who was replacing him at punt returner fumbled away the Rams last chance to make a comeback bid against the Eagles.

Cooper had a kick return average at 27.4 and 12.5 yards per punt return in 2017 and was named All Pro at both positions.

In his third season, Cooper was expected to once again be Los Angeles’ primary returner. But he suffered an ankle injury in the season-opener against the Raiders and was placed on injured reserve. He returned to the lineup in Week 11 but only as a kick returner with JoJo Natson keeping the punter returner job. It was Natson who had the fumble Sunday but Cooper who was waived. Go figure.

Earlier this season, the Raiders got a find in kicker Daniel Carlson. The 5th round rookie was cut by the Vikings after a week two tie with the Packers in which Carlson missed all three of his field goal attempts. Since being signed by the Raiders he has converted 13 of 14 field goal attempts.

The primary kick and punt return specialist this season for the Raiders has been Dwayne Harris. He’s done a fine job, but nowhere near the number Cooper put up last season. Harris is averaging 9.1 yards per punt return — 3.4 yards less than Cooper in 2017 — and 21.9 yards per kick return — 5.5 yards less than Cooper in 2017. Though, to be fair, Harris has had two seasons in which he average more than Cooper’s kick return average and one season better as a punt returner. But you can’t have too many good options.

Cooper was also a fine college wide receiver, and would give the Raiders a Coop at receiver again, though this Coop has caught just 25 passes for 190 yards and no touchdowns in 31 NFL games.

The Raiders are high in the waiver order, so they should be able to get Cooper if they want him. He has one year left on his rookie contract.