ALAMEDA (AP) — The dropped passes that plagued an otherwise productive rookie season are now in the past for Amari Cooper. The struggles to drag a second foot inbounds that cost him a couple of touchdowns were quickly fixed.
In his two seasons in the NFL, Cooper has shown an impressive ability to identify any flaws in his game and correct them quickly. That helped him become the first receiver to top 1,000 yards for the Oakland Raiders in 10 years as a rookie in 2015 and then put up even bigger numbers this season.
Cooper is coming off the first 10-catch game of his career, including a couple on plays near the sideline after putting in extra work in practice on getting both feet inbounds .
“I made it an emphasis last week in practice and it showed up,” Cooper said Wednesday. “I’m happy about that.”
The Raiders (4-2) are quite happy with the production they have gotten out of Cooper this season, especially the past two weeks. He caught six passes for a career-high 138 yards and his first touchdown of the season two weeks ago against San Diego before getting 10 receptions for 129 yards last week in a loss to Kansas City.
For the season, Cooper has 36 catches for 585 yards, ranking in the top 10 in the NFL in both categories. He has been at his best the past two weeks with 16 catches for 267 yards. Cooper had nine of his 10 catches last week in the first half , before Kansas City rolled its defense to his side to try to take him out of the game.
“It just happened that for whatever reason he’s making these crazy plays in practice and it’s happening in the games,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “You can also tell, we talk about the sideline deal, he worked extremely hard at that and then you see him make two, three, four catches on the sideline over and over again, keeping those feet in, dragging the foot and all those things. When you get into that second year, things just start clicking. Things just in your head and out there on the field and I think he’s figuring it out.”
Cooper had a stellar rookie season for Oakland, with the only negatives being a propensity to drop a few too many passes — a league-worst 18 according to Pro Football Focus — and a foot injury that hampered him late in the season.
Cooper has just one dropped pass so far this season, according to Sportradar and has gone three straight weeks without one as the increased focus has paid dividends on the field.
“He’s very prideful and wants to be a great player in the league,” coach Jack Del Rio said. “I mean, he got a clear example of really working the footwork on the sideline, how that could have gotten him a couple more touchdowns. It’s always been something we work on, but I think it got extra focus this week. He’s a good football player, so some of the things he’s really focused on, we’ve benefited from that.”
NOTES: RB Latavius Murray, who missed the past two games with turf toe, was back at practice. ... OLs Menelik Watson (calf) and Matt McCants (knee) also were back at practice.
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