Amari Cooper is back. The four-time Pro Bowl receiver joined two-time Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence as headliners who started training camp on the team’s physically unable to perform list (PUP), with Lawrence being activated last week after being cleared to return to practice. It’s now Cooper’s turn, having passed his most recent physical this week and now also medically cleared to get back to work for the Cowboys — activated from the PUP list on Tuesday.
A week ago today, Cooper gave an update on his recovery from ankle surgery earlier this offseason that — along with the prediction of owner Jerry Jones — hinted strongly at the 27-year-old being close to 100%.
“Yeah, I feel good,” Cooper said last week. “Rehab process has been longer than expected — pretty long actually. I haven’t really ran routes in a long time, but right now I feel real good.”
The plan for Cooper, sources tell CBS Sports, is similar to that of Lawrence, in that both will be ramped up over the next several weeks with the expectation of — along with Dak Prescott — starting in Week 1 when they travel to take on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. That said, Cooper will not be fully unleashed as of yet in practice, but the fact he and Lawrence have both returned so early in August is a great sign that all is ahead of schedule for the Cowboys.
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Cooper went on to explain his decision to shed a few pounds in his rehab, and what it might mean coming off of a season in which he grabbed a career-best 92 receptions for more than 1,100 yards, all without Dak Prescott under center for most of 2020.
“For the past three seasons, I’ve been about 225, said Cooper. “I came in about 212 in the league. … I was accustomed to being small already — not small, but the smaller, quicker, fast receiver. I wanted to be that guy who was big with all of those qualities: big, strong, fast.
“I did it, and it was cool, but I didn’t notice a difference in terms of like if it was harder to tackle me or whatever. I was playing the same at the line of scrimmage. Guys didn’t really touch me. So, I didn’t feel like I needed to be that big anymore.”
And with Prescott back, Cooper is ready to blast off like never before.
“I’ve been talking to myself a lot lately about how I want this year to be different than any year that I’ve played football,” he said. “The way I look at it is: 1,000 yards? That’s OK, but anything after that is like the gravy.
“I want the gravy.”