Rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper elicited one of the loudest reactions from the O.co Coliseum crowd Friday night when he was introduced with the rest of the Raiders starters before their preseason opener against the St. Louis Rams.
After struggling in the vertical passing game a year ago, Cooper, along with veteran wide out Michael Crabtree, was brought in to alleviate that problem and give second-year quarterback Derek Carr a formidable option on the outside – and the Raiders faithful were excited to see him don the Silver and Black for the first time.
Friday was just the first preseason game of the campaign, and teams notoriously keep their play calling and scheme basic, but the rookie from Alabama didn't disappoint during his time on the field.
"It felt really good to go out there and play," said Cooper. "I just wanted to go out there and play football."
Cooper finished the evening with 3 receptions for 22 yards (7.3 avg.), and flashed some of the precise route-running ability that the Raiders saw during his time at Alabama.
You can also add his new starting quarterback to the rapidly growing list of people who have been impressed with his pro-ready game.
"I knew I wanted to get him [Cooper] some touches, I knew I wanted to get him some," Carr said postgame. "I want to get him as many as we can in the preseason, that way he just gets a feel for it and all those things, but he's such a professional that he doesn't need them. I know he wants them, but he doesn't need them. I thought he looked very well, I thought he played well, mentally he's sharp."
The Carr/Cooper connection didn't impress just the offense either, as linebacker Khalil Mack liked what he saw from his teammates on the other side of the ball.
"That was amazing, man," Mack said when asked about Carr and Cooper. "What do they call that? AC/DC? Yeah, AC/DC. That was special, man. Something we're looking forward to seeing for many games to come."
At the end of the day, Cooper's performance was impressive, but he's going to have to display that type of play consistently to blossom into the type of number-one receiver that General Manager Reggie McKenzie envisioned when he drafted him No. 4 overall in this year's NFL Draft.
Cooper flashes maturity beyond his years, and when asked about his mindset heading into his first preseason game, he responded in what has become his signature matter-of-fact delivery.
"I thought it would be different than all of the other levels I played at," Cooper said. "But, it's just football at the end of the day."