Dallas Cowboys

This is the component of Amari Cooper’s game the Cowboys are wanting to exploit more

It’s understood that the Dallas Cowboys are pleased with what they have gotten from receiver Amari Cooper since acquiring him in a trade from Oakland Raiders midway through last season.

He started nine games for the Cowboys and totaled 53 catches for 725 yards and six touchdowns while helping spark the offense in an amazing closing run that resulted in seven wins in their final nine games to claim the NFC East title.

The Cowboys are already negotiating a long-term contract extension for Cooper that will pay him at least $16 million annually, according to sources.

It is also understood that Cooper stands to be even better in 2019 after a full off-season with quarterback Dak Prescott.

But the Cowboys are not simply relying on improvement by osmosis.

They are working with Cooper to improve parts of his game to help him be better as well.

“It’s about him becoming more comfortable and more our style of football,” receivers coach Sanjay Lal said. “He is a great athlete. He can do whatever he sets his mind to. He has really bought into the speed components to this offense, showing vertical push, changing some steps he is not used to in the past.”

For the Cowboys, buying into the speed component for Cooper is for him to accelerate off the ball every time. Cooper has proven himself to be a great route runner with great footwork.

But his repertoire is mainly built on slow deception. The Cowboys want him to add to the speed game to keep the defensive backs even more off balanced.

Those are the things he has worked on in the off-season program and is continuing during OTA practices.

“He is doing a great job honing his speed game just like his deception game,” Lal said. “He is doing a great job of running off the ball. You hear Coach (Jason) Garrett yelling all practice long, ‘Run off the ball, run off the ball, run off the ball.’ We all are. We want to create vertical speed and show vertical speed in all our routes. He has done a great job with that.”

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.