Last week at this time, Riley Cooper had just taken a leave of absence from the Philadelphia Eagles to enter counseling. This Friday night, he was back in the Eagles' lineup, in a 31-22 preseason loss to the Patriots.
Cooper finished with one catch for 19 yards, off a pass from Philadelphia starter Michael Vick. That was all Cooper contributed to the stat sheet, but his mere presence was noteworthy.
The MMQB's Peter King wrote on Monday that he expected the Eagles to give Cooper a second chance, following Cooper being caught on video shouting a racial slur. The fourth-year receiver did not have to wait long for that opportunity -- he was back at Eagles camp Tuesday.
“My concern wasn’t how he practiced, it’s just him with the team itself and (getting) the chance to make sure he got to talk to every single guy so that they understand how we felt, what he did, and understand that he’s truly sorry for what he did,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly told the media after Cooper returned. “We’ll look at the film and correct all those other things, but that wasn’t my concern.”
Vick, meanwhile, told Breer, "Everything is back to normal." Those words are critical given that Vick has the inside track on the starting job in Philadelphia, and therefore would be the player responsible for getting the ball to Cooper.
It's still impossible to believe that Cooper's alcohol-induced outburst at a Kenny Chesney concert has become water under the bridge for all of his teammates. Running back LeSean McCoy said in the immediate aftermath that he "can't respect a guy like that." Cooper also still has to deal with what's sure to be a fiery reaction from fans and opponents outside Philadelphia. Cooper, though, remains ticketed for a starting receiver job in Philadelphia, with Jeremy Maclin and Arrelious Benn both done for the season. The 25-year-old Cooper is coming off a 2012 season in which he caught 23 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns.