Mac Engel

And Amari Cooper is dealing with another nagging injury. Again.

Amari Cooper says he’s fine, but whenever he plays it feels like he is on borrowed time.

Cooper, the Dallas Cowboys’ Pro Bowl wide receiver, said he had to take himself out of practice on Wednesday ahead of the game against the New York Giants on Monday night.

After catching a pass in the first half, he stumbled to the ground. No defender caused him to fall down. Shortly thereafter, he took himself out of the game.

He said the knee locked up.

“It was the same thing,” Cooper said. “When I hurt it in practice, I was not able to finish practice. It was kind of a weird thing.”

He talked to trainers and team doctors on the bench. For a while, he limped on the sideline.

“I was just playing with my knee trying to get it to unlock, or whatever it was that was causing the pain,” Cooper said. “And it got better as the game went on.”

He jogged a bit and did a few squats.

“It still kind of hurt a little,” he said.

He insisted it was no big deal, and he came back to catch a 45-yard pass from Dak Prescott for a touchdown in the Cowboys’ 37-18 win.

“I assume he’s good to go,” Prescott said. “I had no idea about that. If he’s on the field, he I know he will give us his best. That’s how I see it.”

One detail of Cooper’s game is of concern: He always seems to have a little this or that or to deal with and fight through in order to play.

As a rookie with the Oakland Raiders, he missed one game. The next season, it was two. In his third year, he missed two games. This season, he started in the game against the New York Jets but left in the first quarter with a quad injury.

He played the next week against the Philadelphia Eagles and caught five passes for 106 yards.

As you can see, there has been nothing major. But there usually is something. With players like that, the fear is something serious will eventually happen.

No one can say Cooper doesn’t deal with it.

This is Cooper’s second year with the Cowboys, and his worth to the team remains just as invaluable as it was last season. He has 42 receptions for 701 yards and six touchdowns.

“You have to create separation,” he said. “You have to catch the ball, and it’s so difficult to do that if you are banged up, as opposed to another position. I’m not trying to undermine another position.

“You can hide an injury, like a pass rusher. You can fight through it. It’s not like you have to create separation. It will be harder to get to the quarterback but you can fight through it.”

Expect Cooper to continue to fight through it, and expect him to always have something to fight.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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