Amari Cooper is coming off of one of his best seasons in the NFL in 2020. Despite Dak Prescott missing 11 games and the offensive line of the Dallas Cowboys putting 13 different combinations on the field, Cooper set a career-high with 92 receptions and had his fifth 1,000-yard campaign in six seasons.
Cooper had a cleanup procedure done in January to fix a lingering ankle issue. It kept him out of OTAs and minicamp. However, he was taken off of the PUP list last week and returned to the practice field. His health is right on par to be ready for the season opener against the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but it appears Cooper will get to test the waters this Saturday in the “dress rehearsal” game against the Houston Texans.
“Yeah, I want to play for sure,” Cooper said on Tuesday. “I got word that I was playing.”
After being limited in practice for precautionary reasons on Tuesday, Cooper's workload was to be ramped up on Wednesday. There were no reports of any setbacks which means the probability of him playing Saturday is high, but Cooper wants to make sure he can do all the things he is accustomed to doing before getting back to work.
“I would really have to run the full route tree,” Cooper said. “There's just a lot that I haven't done. When I was 100 percent, I did everything. I ran every route. Some things on the football field are harder to do than others. I haven't really done the more challenging aspects of my position yet.”
The third preseason game is normally when starters see the bulk of their work before the regular season commences. It's a good way to establish some semblance of a rhythm considering in a lot of cases, especially for offensive players, they see one or two quarters of action.
That's where Cooper is right now as he enters year seven.
“With me, I just want to do enough to feel confident going into Week 1,” said Cooper. “I just started practicing, so it's just about getting my legs back underneath me and getting my confidence back.”
Cooper has dealt with nagging injuries since he arrived in Dallas but he's yet to miss a game, and all signs point to that being the case in 2021.