Several times in the Raiders’ first OTA practice on Tuesday, they lined up in three wide receiver sets. And when they did, Amari Cooper was often the man who moved inside to the slot.
“Yeah, I love the slot,” said Cooper after practice.
He should love it. His skillset is perfect for the slot. His compact frame, precise routes, and quickness are all ideal for the slot position.
Equally important is the Raiders other top receivers not having the ideal playing style for the slot.
Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant are outside receivers. Bryant is a tall, speedy deep ball threat and Jordy Nelson excels in working the sideline and making tough catches. So, in order to get all of the Raiders best receivers on the field at the same time, Cooper sliding inside makes for a dynamic trio.
Cooper downplayed his time in the slot, saying basically that Gruden was trying out different things.
“Well, he’s is doing a good job of moving us all around right now,” said Cooper of playing in the slot. “We have to learn every single receiver position on the field because he wants to move us around a lot.”
Moving around may apply to him more than the others. But you’d have to figure as many three wide receiver sets as Gruden figures to run, he will could be spending a lot more time in the slot than the he had in years past.
Gruden added that Cooper has a “twinge in his hamstring” right now, but it didn’t keep Cooper out of team drills. Gruden said the number one thing for Coop is to get healthy. Cooper downplayed that as well, saying “I’ve been hurt every year I played football.”
Yeah, he has. The key is to see if he can keep playing at a high level while he’s hurt.