All along, Jonathan Cooper was going to play it smart.
The guard did participate in all of the offseason work as the first-unit left guard, just as was planned. Coach Bruce Arians raised a couple of eyebrows at the end of minicamp when he said it as “obvious” Cooper was “not the athlete he was last year at this time and I wouldn’t expect him to be.” Such is the downfall of coming back off a broken leg (and doing it at 312 pounds, which isn’t simple.) But Arians also finished his statement with a very important qualifier: “He has plenty of time to get there.”
Cooper knew it was going to take a while to get back to normal. In a lot of ways, the offseason was a perfect jumping off point for Cooper. He could ease back into the flow of the offense and starting without the punishment and rigors of actually playing offensive line. By the time Cooper has to really start hitting people in pads a few days into training camp, my guess is he’ll be in a much better place. The Cardinals have zero doubt that a) Cooper will be ready by the time games count for real and b) that Cooper will be able to perform like the former first-round draft pick that he is.
The Cardinals are counting on that left side of the line. Between Cooper and Jared Veldheer at left tackle, they represent two well-planned for pieces in GM Steve Keim’s rebuilding of the offensive line. Cooper, yet to play a regular-season down, must still prove himself. But barring another injury, I don’t see health being an impediment as the Cards move into the 2014 season.
Tags: Jared Veldheer, Jonathan Cooper, Steve Keim
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