Wide Receiver Amari Cooper
As far as rookie seasons go, you couldn’t have asked for much more than what Amari Cooper delivered in 2015.
The University of Alabama-product lived up to the hype as a first round draft choice, finishing the season with 72 catches for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns. He also became the youngest wide receiver – and second youngest player – in franchise history to catch a touchdown pass in the process.
By nearly every metric, it was an outstanding maiden campaign for Cooper, but if you wanted to look for something to take umbrage with – and you really have to look hard – it was that that Cooper wasn’t necessarily the poster boy for being open and showing off his personality off the field.
As a rookie, “Coop” got in and out of his media sessions nearly as quickly as he got out of his breaks, and while that’s not a bad thing at all for a rookie trying to focus on his craft, it did create a sense of intrigue from media and fans alike who wanted to know more about the dynamic receiver.
However, heading into Year 2, Cooper is coming out of his shell and becoming more vocal, and it’s a difference that quarterback Derek Carr is noticing.
“Yeah, man, he [Cooper] is talking more,” said Carr. “He is more talkative, you can just see. Like any rookie, he did it right. He came in and he probably did it on purpose a little bit too. You just come in, shut your mouth and go to work and that’s exactly what he did. Everyone respected him. No one could ever say anything about his work ethic besides, ‘Man, he’s quiet.’ That’s the only negative thing you could say, and that’s not even a bad thing. He’s definitely more talkative this year and he’s just being himself.”
While Cooper excelled with his one or two-word answers during 2015, throughout the 2016 Offseason Workout Program he’s shown to be more willing to engage when asked questions.
So what does he attribute to his more talkative nature in 2016? It’s simple; just being comfortable with his teammates.
“Probably just being around the guys for a longer amount of time,” Cooper explained. “I’ve never been the type of person who just walks into a building or a place that I’ve never been before and just be this outspoken person. I just like to chill out first. See how things are going.”
And things went pretty well for him his first season in Silver and Black, as he led the all rookies in receiving in 2015, and in conjunction with Carr, gave the Raiders’ offense a jolt.
In their first season together, AC/DC – as the pair has become affectionately coined – showed that it’s capable of being one of the more explosive tandems in the NFL, and headed in 2016 Head Coach Jack Del Rio is hoping to see more of the same.
“Now it’s [their] second year together,” Del Rio said. “Derek’s third, Amari’s second year, but their second year together. I think you see a comfort and understand of where each other is going to be. What they can count on from each other. We want to continue to develop that, push hard for that.”
As a rookie, Cooper made it clear that he’s going to be a legitimate threat between the hash marks for years to come, but it looks like entering his sophomore campaign in Silver and Black that he’s going to more willing to talk about his craft.
The old adage is “actions speak louder than words,” and while that’s true, a more vocal Cooper will be welcomed in 2016 and beyond.