Cooper Close, But Not Ready to Go
Jonathan Cooper’s rookie campaign ended only three weeks before the 2013 season opener, after a fellow teammate barreled into the back of his left leg, causing it to break.
Fast forward after nearly 10 months of tenuous rehab and conditioning. The second year player, drafted seventh overall, still does not feel like his leg will hold up in the heat of battle, despite spending time on the field during OTA’s and minicamp.
“I think I have progressed quite a bit, but not quite to game-ready,” Cooper said after the team’s final minicamp practice Thursday. “I’ve come out here and I’ve done everything they asked me to do rehab-wise and lifting-wise and on the field to the best of my ability, but my performance isn’t quite where it needs to be for game one.”
There is obviously plenty of time before the Cardinals open up the season against the San Diego Chargers. Three months is what separates him from the season opener, less than two before the preseason opener, and a little over a full month before training camp opens.
Bruce Arians has said he is hopeful that Cooper will be 100 percent when training camp roles around, and it’s a sentiment Cooper shared. He can do everything that is require of him, just not to the level that he expects from himself.
Cooper is already penciled in as the starter in between center Lyle Sendlein, and newly signed left tackle, Jared Veldheer. His return is expected to solidify one of the worst offensive lines, and in particular, the worst left side of an offensive line, for the past several seasons. Fans are expecting his return will bring a new breath from fans who have so longed for the team to fix their most obvious weakness.
Injuries are mental, something Cooper understands:
“They say a lot of the injuries when you’re recovering is between the ears, and so I feel like that has a lot to do with it,” he said. “But I feel like this (OTAs and minicamp) was good for me. I mean, I really got a bunch of reps and was able to show myself that it’s fine, you’re not going to re-injure yourself or anything like that, so I can just keep working and improve.”
Cooper will be a player to watch as we get closer to that September 8 opener against the Chargers. His addition to the line will be crucial in opening windows for the runningbacks to blow through, and to give Carson Palmer that extra half second he needs to make the right throw.
There is a renewed sense of excitement in the air, for a team who is looking to compete in the NFC West, and to get back into the postseason for their chance to reach the ultimate prize, the Lombardi Trophy.
*Credit to arizonasports.com for the quotes*