Rookie Amari Cooper closes in on 1,000-yard mark for Raiders

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ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) The decade-long search for a big-play receiver in Oakland has finally come to an end following the drafting of Amari Cooper.

With a big day by Cooper on Sunday against Denver, the Raiders could reach what's become a rare milestone for them.

Cooper needs 80 yards receiving to become the first Oakland player to hit the 1,000-yard mark in a season since Randy Moss' first year in Oakland back in 2005.

''I think it would be a cool accomplishment,'' Cooper said Wednesday. ''Of course I set a lot of individual goals but I haven't reached any of them yet. ... It means a lot to accomplish something that hasn't been accomplished in a long time.''

Cooper is one of 77 players to catch a pass for Oakland since the drought started in 2006 and none of the others have reached a mark that has become less prestigious in recent years with the increase in passes thrown.

The milestone has been reached 198 times since 2006, with every team getting there at least once besides the Raiders after Jacksonville's Allen Robinson got there last week.

Cooper could have some company in the 1,000-yard club. Teammate Michael Crabtree needs just 240 yards over his final four games - slightly below his average to this point - to give the Raiders a pair of 1,000-yard receivers for the first time since Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Tim Brown did it in 2001.

''It may not mean what it did at one time in terms of the number of guys that are able to make that accomplishment, but it's still a sizable chunk of real estate that you're collecting over a season,'' coach Jack Del Rio said. ''So yeah, it is significant.''

If he gets there this week, Cooper will be the fourth rookie to reach the 1,000-yard mark in his team's first 13 games, joining Moss, Anquan Boldin and Bill Groman.

Cooper's season hasn't come without flaws. He is tied for the league lead with 12 dropped passes, according to Pro Football Focus, including a crucial one on fourth-and-2 in last week's loss to Kansas City.

But with that issue comes the ability to make the tough catches in traffic as well as the ability to outjump defenders for deep balls even when he is covered.

That talent, along with his crisp route running and big-play ability after the catch, has drawn rave reviews from opponents.

''He's open when he leaves the huddle,'' Denver coach Gary Kubiak said. ''He's a tremendous athlete, runs great routes. The thing I'm really impressed with him, as a coach, is how hard he plays, even when the ball isn't coming his way. That's very impressive to me. We loved him coming out and I think he's been above and beyond.''

Cooper had just 47 yards on four catches against Denver's top-ranked pass defense in the first meeting between the teams in October in Oakland, meaning it may be difficult to reach the milestone this week.

But barring injury, he should get there soon with four games remaining.

''I could say so many special things about that guy,'' quarterback Derek Carr said. ''I hope he gets there. He deserves it. He works his tail off. I didn't know it had been 10 years, that's crazy. That would be cool.''



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