Over the first five days of practice, Denver Broncos' rookie rush linebacker Jonathon Cooper was mostly quiet. He had some plays here and there, but never really had that one big day. Then the pads came on and he, literally, blew it up.
Throughout Tuesday's padded practice, Cooper was constantly garnering praise for making big plays. In one-on-one blocking drills, he handled a block by tight end Noah Fant rather quickly to sack the dummy. Later on, Cooper had what would’ve been a huge sack in an actual game.
Keep in mind, the Broncos' depth edge rusher is seeing action in team drills with the third unit and often against the third-string offense. That doesn’t change how impressive Cooper was when the pads came on as he fights for a depth roster spot. With what he put out there on the field, Cooper seems to have created separation from the second-year Derrek Tuszka for that fourth edge rusher spot.
Cooper's former college teammate Dre’Mont Jones, spoke about the relentless motor that his fellow Ohio State Buckeye has.
“No matter what, one thing Jonathon Cooper is going to do is play hard," Jones said on Saturday. "He’s going to run to the ball, he’s going to give maximum effort, whether that’s playing the run, rushing the passer, punt or kickoff. Literally at Ohio State we had him do everything. I’m pretty sure they’re going to have him do everything here, too. He’s going to give it his all—100 percent, no drop-off.”
That endorsement came out in the wish on Day 1 of padded practice as multiple reports highlighted Cooper's relentless motor. The young rookie really needed to have a big day, too.
There was an early concern with Cooper as back in May he had to have three heart procedures. During that time, there was talk he would need a pacemaker, which would have ended his football career. It was an issue he had in high school as well, and he hopes that is behind him now.
With the Broncos training camp still being fresh, it's great to see another rookie really step up, especially when the pads came on. There is a lead for Cooper for that fourth edge spot, but he has to go out there and finish to cement himself there.
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