Week 9 Players To Watch: Cowboys vs. Titans
The expectations of getting an immediate impact from new receiver Amari Cooper are so great for the Dallas Cowboys that position coach Sanjal Lal took time away from tending to a family matter in the Bay Area during last weekend’s bye to spend time coaching up Cooper at a local park.
Cooper, who was acquired in a trade from the Oakland Raiders last Monday, was there to gather some of the things he had left behind.
The two spent two hours a day for three days last weekend at Fallon Sports Park in Dublin, Calif. so he can be ready to start when the Cowboys (3-4) return to action Monday night at AT&T Stadium against the Tennessee Titans.
“We just walked through the plays,” Cooper said. “We got there kind of early so there wasn’t many people there.”
Lal recorded Cooper’s routes on his iPad every day and they would review them together.
Lal said Cooper has picked up the offense as well as anyone he has had on short notice in the past.
“I picked up a lot,” Cooper said. “It’s not a bad translation. It’s easy to translate what I did in Oakland here.”
Also helping get Cooper acclimated were daily phone calls during the bye with quarterback Dak Prescott.
And they were phone calls, per Prescott, not “FaceTime” interactions on their iPhones as coach Jason Garrett said.
“He doesn’t even know what FaceTime is,” Prescott said incredulously.
Said Cooper: “We have been talking, trying to catch up on some things. We are where our feet are. When we talked on the phone it was mainly what’s your favorite route to throw? How do you like to throw this route? This signal is with this play. This is the code word for that play. Things of that nature.”
Cooper said the two have got together in person when he returned on Tuesday and they have been working ever since.
“All the small things matter,” Cooper said when asked what the key is getting acclimated with a new quarterback. “Communication. It doesn’t matter what you are doing you have to be on same page.”
Cooper has already been inserted in the starting lineup. And he knows the Cowboys and the fans are expecting him to make an immediate impact on their fledgling passing game, which ranks 29th in the league in yards per game and 26th in yards per attempt.
“Yeah, there is definitely a sense of urgency being that I just got here and we have to play this week,” Cooper said. “I have to go out there and play on Monday and it’s a completely new system. But like I said, at the end of the day it’s football. I’ve played in a couple of different systems now so, you know, after a while you are really doing some of the same things they just call it something different.”
The soft-spoken and confident Cooper says he feels no pressure to make an immediate impact.
“I mean, why feel pressure when you can apply it,” he said. “That’s my take on that.”
The Cowboys are going to give him every chance to apply that pressure on the Titans who are will likely open the game focused on stopping running back Ezekiel Elliott.
The Cowboys plan to make them pay with passes to fast-learning Cooper on outside.
Is he ready?
“That is a good question. We will have to wait and see,” Cooper said softly and confidently.