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Raiders continue to stoke expectations for Amari Cooper

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Amari Cooper is off to a blistering career start, one that Raiders coaches and colleagues expect won’t slow anytime soon.

Quite the opposite.

There is a palpable belief around the Raiders’ facility this spring that Cooper’s best is yet to come. So far, his offseason supports the notion, as he’s worked to polish aspects of his game. Cooper is still 22. Fellow players recently voted the two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver as the 53rd-best player in the league, according to NFL Network.

On Tuesday, offensive coordinator Todd Downing became the latest to praise Cooper’s progression.

“I’ll tell you what, he’s coming to work with a purpose,” Downing said. “He’s really been impressive with the way he’s attacked each day. He’s working on the small things, working on things that maybe hindered him as the season went on last year. I think that you’re going to see an impressive version of Amari in 2017.”

Coach Jack Del Rio expressed a similar sentiment a week earlier.

“I think he has a much greater understanding,” he said of Cooper. “I thought last year was a step forward. I know he wants to continue to push. It’s great when you have a young, talented player that’s really eager to be special (and) wants to make a mark in this league. The way he’s working at it right now is outstanding. That’s all we want (out) of our guys: Come in every day and express themselves and be full of energy and try to work at something; be a little bit better at something.

“There are a lot of different facets to him. Where his speed is really one of his greatest strengths, obviously, his route-running ability was pretty doggone polished when he got here, but even that can continue to improve and the timing with Derek (Carr). We think he’ll continue to ascend.”

Cooper had a relatively slow finish in each of his first two NFL seasons. When combining his first eight games of 2015 and 2016, his totals were 97 receptions for 1,440 yards and six touchdowns.

Last year, Cooper caught a career-high 83 passes for 1,153 yards and five touchdowns.

More Raiders: Follow all of our Oakland Raiders-to-Las Vegas coverage online at reviewjournal.com/Raiders and @NFLinVegas on Twitter.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at mgehlken@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

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