Outside of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football, Amari Cooper was practically nonexistent in last season. After two 1,000-yard seasons to begin his NFL career, he had less than 700 receiving yards in 2017.
Many of Raider Nation, including myself, thought Cooper’s poor play was a result of promoting Todd Downing to offensive coordinator and the general struggles that the 2017 Oakland offense experienced.
His quarterback seems to believe that injuries played a major part in Cooper’s subpar season.
“He will never tell you, and he’ll never even talk about it, but that man was out there playing on one foot,” Derek Carr said on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio. “He’s out there trying to give it his all, even though he could barely get out there and do it. That’s the kind of guy I want to play with. That’s how I know we’re going to be just fine.”
While hearing that Cooper played through a tough injury might seem to be reassuring, the reality is that everyone is injured in the NFL and that being healthy/available is a skill in football. It is also the same excuse that was used after Cooper’s play diminished in the second half of his rookie season.
In addition, it is unclear whether or not Carr is talking about Cooper during the entire season or just after he took the brutal hit against the Denver Broncos that left him with a bad ankle injury and concussion.
The injury against the Broncos didn’t occur until Week 11, so that wouldn’t explain why Cooper was invisible the first 10 weeks of the NFL season and had just two games where he eclipsed 60 yards receiving up to that point.
Cooper may or may not rebound to have a great year in 2018, but it won’t just magically be fixed because he is healthy.
Cooper should be applauded, regardless of the output he had in 2017, for playing through the injuries that he did have for a six-win football team. Without a doubt, Cooper is one tough S.O.B. and the Raiders are lucky to have him.