The second Cooper casualty was cornerback David Amerson. This time Carr trusted Cooper to wrangle a pass in traffic during a two-minute drill. Cooper did, high-pointing the football before falling onto the turf for a first down.
“Seeing him do it out here, we were just laughing, man,” Carr said after practice. “The guy has been going off all offseason. We were just laughing about how impressed we are.”
To the casual observer, Cooper has bulked up his physique since the end of the 2016 campaign. That change is obvious, one that can be measured with a tape measure. There is something else, though, that his quarterback sees in the third-year wide receiver.
It’s mental, and it’s become increasingly obvious in recent weeks.
“That dog in him is coming out,” Carr said. “That thing you saw at Alabama where he’d just take games over. Not to say that he hasn’t because he has, but I think it’s not just becoming a thing of, ‘What game is it going to be?’ It’s becoming a thing of, ‘That’s who he is.’ (Defensive backs) better know that he’s really taking it serious, that he’s trying to go attack them this year. He’s not going to let them come to him this year. That just comes with age.”
Cooper is still only 22; he turns 23 on Saturday.
He caught 83 passes for 1,153 yards and five touchdowns in 2016. The production came despite a modest finish; he totaled 31 receptions, 366 yards and three scores in the final eight games.
There’s been nothing modest about his performance this spring.
Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.