It hasn’t taken long for Amari Cooper to embrace Jon Gruden’s offense.
The Raiders wide receiver, who’s with his teammates at this week’s organized team activities (OTAs), says Gruden’s passing offense will be much different than the schemes he’s been a part of in his first three NFL seasons in Oakland.
Cooper, who will be part of a revamped corps of wide receivers – that includes former Packers standout Jordy Nelson and ex-Steeler Martavis Bryant – knows that this year Gruden will move him all over the field, on the outside, in motion and in the slot, to try to free him up and create mismatches. Every receiver is being pushed hard to learn routes from every position, so the offense can be proactive and versatile in attacking secondaries.
Already, says Cooper, the wide receivers are being moved around in OTAs.
“I mean, so we have a whole lot of plays even right now this early,” Cooper told a group of reporters this week. “We have something for everything. Every defensive look, we can audible to something to get in the right play for any defense.”
The Raiders were criticized in 2017 for not making as much use of Cooper in the passing scheme as they did in 2016 and 2015. Cooper had his own problems, too, with drops and injuries. After 72 catches for 1,070 yards in 2015 and 83 for 1,153 in 2016, he slumped to 48 receptions for 680 yards in 2018.
Now, however, Gruden has said he wants to make Cooper the focus of the passing offense, which is fine with Cooper.
“It was cool,” Cooper said of Gruden’s faith in him. “Obviously as a receiver, you want to go out there and make plays for your team to win. So for him to say that, it really meant a lot to me. I’m just ready to come out and work and prove that I deserve to have those opportunities.”
Cooper has experienced a bit of hamstring tightness this week, but it hasn’t dampened his optimism about making a big comeback in 2018, or for the new wideouts he’ll be playing with. Cooper told the NFL Network that Nelson has already emerged as a “quarterback in the wide receivers room” and that Bryant’s speed and ability to get deep will give quarterback Derek Carr more opportunities to complete throws all over the field.
“It’ll open up the offense a lot more, being that he’s so fast and dangerous with the ball in his hands,” Cooper told Kyle Martin of Raiders.com.