ALAMEDA, Calif. – Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr hopes to get receiver Amari Cooper back in the lineup this week, if for no other reason than it should force teams to change their coverage schemes.
Cooper returned to practice on a limited basis Friday after sitting out last week’s loss to Dallas with a sprained left ankle. He got hurt against Kansas City the previous week while blocking during a running play.
It was the same ankle that Cooper injured two weeks earlier against Denver, when he also suffered a concussion after colliding with Denver safety Darian Stewart.
The two-time Pro Bowler broke a month-long silence when he spoke with reporters and sounded optimistic about his chances of playing this weekend in Philadelphia.
“I just want to have two good games,” Cooper said. “It’s been frustrating in that regard. Obviously, you want to be out there and play. This is my job, you know what I’m saying?”
Carr clearly wants Cooper back.
Oakland’s fourth-year quarterback has had an uneven season and is coming off two of his lowest passing totals of the year after throwing for 171 yards against Dallas and 211 against Kansas City. He was intercepted twice by the Chiefs and fumbled away a potential game-winning touchdown against the Cowboys when neither of his top two wide receivers was on the field.
“When people cover Coop, they bracket him, they try and match him, they try and in-and-out him, they try a whole bunch of different things,” Carr said. “When that doesn’t happen, the attention goes to (Michael) Crabtree, the attention goes to Jared (Cook) depending on the defensive personnel that they have. They’re able to roll coverages and make it hard for us.”
Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing, whose play-calling has been under heavy scrutiny this season, believes getting Cooper back might loosen up some of that coverage.
“Hopefully he can get rolling,” Downing said. “He’s been working hard in the training room and trying to get back. We’ll see how that all goes and shakes out but I know he wants to finish the season strong, as we all do. I’d like to see him out there flying around if we can get him.”
Cooper was among the Raiders’ leading receivers before getting injured but has had only one catch in the two games he’s played over the past month.
The fourth overall pick in 2015, Cooper said he is still working through the ankle injury.
“To be hurt and then to feel like you’re ready to play, to put in all that preparation and all that treatment and go out there and get hurt again, it can be tough a little bit mentally, but it’s football,” Cooper said. “You risk getting hurt every play out there.”
NOTES: The Raiders placed Pro Bowl LT Donald Penn and backup C Jon Feliciano on season-ending injured reserve. Penn injured his right foot in the loss to Dallas and underwent surgery earlier this week. OL Ian Silberman and LB Brady Shelton were signed to the 53-man roster. C Rodney Hudson (ankle/illness), CB David Amerson (mid-foot sprain), TE Clive Walford (concussion/neck) and DT Trayvon Hester (ankle) were held out of practice.
Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review’s sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.