Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper made the Pro Bowl roster for the second time in his two NFL seasons this week, and this time, it wasn’t as an injury replacement. The former Alabama All-American is a starter for the AFC’s all-stars.
In the second half of the 2016 season, Cooper has been drawing coverage that befits that status.
“It hasn’t been the same,” Cooper said. “I’ve seen a little bit more safety over the top, a little bit more double-coverage, guys following me around.”
In the first half of the season, Cooper caught 52 passes for 787 yards and two touchdowns. But in the six games since he gained 173 yards on 12 receptions against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the eighth contest of the season, Cooper has 22 receptions for 251 yards and two touchdowns. He hasn’t topped 59 yards in any game, and in Sunday’s 19-16 victory over the San Diego Cheap Jerseys Chargers, Cooper had one catch.
“We have a lot of capable receivers on this team, so I don’t really worry about it,” Cooper said of the extra attention sent his way by defensive coordinators.
Cooper’s drop in production hasn’t hurt the Raiders’ bottom line. Oakland has a 5-1 record in the past six games. At 11-3 overall, the Raiders are enjoying their first winning season since 2002 and are headed for the playoffs for the first time since then.
“The feeling in the locker room, everyone was ecstatic,” Cooper said of the Raiders wrapping up a postseason spot by beating the Chargers. “I Cheap nfl Jerseys could just see the smiles on everyone’s faces. Guys were happy, man, just to be a part of this team, and just to have a winning season and know that we’re going into the playoffs, it’s a great feeling.”
Still, Oakland offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave would like to get Cooper the ball more than he’s seen it lately.
“Amari’s really been working,” Musgrave said. “A couple plays were designed to go to Amari, and they happened to be completions to Customized Jerseys someone else due to the coverage. That’s one thing we want to do each and every week is feature our premier guys and get him his touches. So we need to make up for lost ground there.”
The selections for this season’s NFL Pro Bowl, announced on Tuesday night, included six Alabama alumni, the most former Crimson Tide players picked in one season. Three of the players were chosen for the Pro Bowl for the first time, bringing the number of ex-Alabama players selected for the Pro Bowl, the AFL All-Star Game and the Pro All-Star Game to 38.
But quarterback Derek Carr doesn’t want to force the ball to Cooper either. In Sunday’s game, Carr threw to Cooper only three times, tied for the fewest targets in the wide receiver’s career.
“There are some Oakland Raiders Jerseys times where we like to get him the ball, but I’m never going to force it to somebody and put the team in a bad spot,” Carr said. “He’s obviously a great playmaker, and you want the ball in his hands. …
“We’ve seen our running backs and tight ends gain explosive yards. If people try and take away one person with double teams or putting their best guy on someone, it will open up opportunities for other guys. We have a lot of other guys who are pretty good.”
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