Raiders receiver Amari Cooper’s body is ready for a nice, long break. There isn’t much of an offseason between declaring for the NFL Draft and the months-long preparation for selection day. A few weeks of downtime, tops.
Rookies go from draft prep to an NFL offseason program into a long slate of games. That’s a strenuous stretch, one Cooper concluded with a nagging foot injury that hindered his effectiveness late in the season.
“I’m actually going to have a break,” Cooper said. “I haven’t had one in a long time. That’s a good feeling.”
It will allow his mind to exhale and his body to heal. Cooper said he doesn’t need offseason surgery, just rest and rehab to deal with a successful first season that came with some bumps, bruises and physical play against him.
“My body is definitely not fresh,” Cooper said. “I have a couple of nicks and bruises that I need to get fixed in the offseason, but everything will heal up and I’ll be just fine.”
Cooper’s foot hasn’t been fine in a while. He was limited in practice over the season’s last month. He had just 150 yards in his last four games, a startling total considering 80 percent of that production came in Week 15 against Green Bay.
The foot had a significant impact on Cooper especially, considering his position and style of play.
“For a receiver who likes to cut and likes to get separation,” Cooper said, “playing on something like that is just tough.”
Despite late injuries, Cooper had an excellent rookie year. The No. 4 overall pick from Alabama finished with 72 receptions for 1,070 yards – he’s the Raiders first thousand-yard receiver since 2005 – and six touchdowns, all NFL highs among this year’s rookie class.
He was the draft class’ best rookie receiver, but that may not make him the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. He should have competition from Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston and St. Louis running back Todd Gurley, who will be considered favorites for the honor.
“I definitely wanted to be the Offensive Rookie of the Year, but there are a couple of rookies out there that did a great job,” he said.
Cooper should get an invite to the awards ceremony and a few votes for a solid first year, but probably won’t win a year after Khalil Mack finished third in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting.
Cooper never seems satisfied with his performance, which included several dynamic runs after the catch and deep receptions. He wouldn’t use the foot as an excuse for a slowed final stretch, but said he’ll use the offseason to prepare for an improved second season in the NFL.
“He’s got his own pride about him,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I know he’s a real competitive guy. I think for him to finish the year the way he did shows a lot of guts. Obviously, he’s made of the right stuff.”