NAPA – Raiders receiver Amari Cooper is a quiet sort, someone focused far more on actions than words. That was clear during his rookie year, when he became the first Raiders wideout over 1,000 yards since 2005.
It wasn’t what he did that impressed Fred Biletnikoff most. The Raiders Hall-of-Fame receiver loved how Cooper went about his business.
“He has a maturity to him already that some people never get,” Biletnikoff said last week. “You just watch him and you’re impressed, but you can see room to grow and grow and grow. I like him because he has confidence but doesn’t flaunt it. He looks and plays like a professional. There were a few games where he wasn’t perfect, but he seemed to come back from it and do very well.”
Biletnikoff played with a similar demeanor during 14 seasons with the Oakland Raiders, where he was a Super Bowl champ and MVP, an All-Pro and a six-time Pro Bowler.
Cooper and Biletnikoff have talked several times, since the Alabama product won the Biletnikoff Award, which is given to college football’s best receiver. That has carried on since Cooper was drafted by the Raiders, though Biletnikoff doesn’t try to coach the young player or offer advice. He watches as a fan with a trained football eye.
“I’ve played and coached enough in my day. I love watching the kid play,” Biletnikoff said. “He’s very disciplined running routes and making smart decisions. I’m sure that was instilled in him at Alabama. When you’re in that type of atmosphere, you’re already a step up on everybody else your age. Once he gets fully adjusted to the NFL, he’s only going to get better. Amari’s going to be a great receiver and, I love that he has Michael Crabtree to help him along the way. They play well together.”
Cooper is expected to lead a talented group that remains unchained, with Cooper, Crabtree, Seth Roberts and Andre Holmes leading the charge. Cooper says the group is more comfortable in the system, and big things should be expected from this group.
“We’re out here working, especially against our (defensive backs),” Cooper said. “They’re giving us some good work out there on the field. I think we’re getting better every day. I think the sky is the limit for us.”