OAKLAND -– Raiders rookie receiver touched the football four times on his first professional drive.
That was by design. Maybe not the number of targets, but there was an effort made to get the team’s No. 4 overall pick involved during Friday’s 18-3 home victory over the St. Louis Rams in the preseason opener for both teams.
Carr only had the first quarter to do it, but wasn’t willing to force the issue. He found Cooper at good times and helped the rookie get his feet wet.
“I was looking to get Amari the ball if I could,” Carr said. “I was going through my reads, but (I’d look his way) if things were the same. I know what Crabtree can do. He knows what he can do. I just want to get Coop as many balls as we can without forcing it. I’m going to work within the framework of the offense and we’re going to make sure we clean some things up, but we want to let him see the ball coming to him in a live setting and make plays with it.”
Cooper made three receptions for 22 yards and had an end around for three more.
“We got him four touches early in the game, and it was great to see,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. ”We’ve been working hard to build a rapport between Derek and Cooper and Derek and Crab. It was nice that it worked out that way and Amari got involved.”
Cooper was targeted another time, on a pass that got intercepted by Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson in the end zone. Carr said it was a miscommunication between quarterback and receiver that was easily fixed. It’s possible Cooper should’ve flattened a route in that situation. Carr took responsibility for that situation, which will ultimately be a teaching moment.
“We just had a miscommunication, and we’re glad it happened now,” Carr said. “I’ll get that fixed. Anything that happens bad in the red zone can get put on me. I’ll make sure I clean that up, but better it happens now than in Week 1.”
Cooper was happy to see some touches and use the experience as a building block as the Raiders head toward the regular season.
“I caught a couple of balls early, one on a crucial second down,” Cooper said. “I think we can continue to build, have great practices and continue to keep this thing going.”