For the second time in as many offseasons, Denver Broncos outside linebacker Jonathon Cooper is going under the knife.
9News' Mike Klis reports Cooper will have surgery on his left ring finger Thursday after sustaining an injury during Monday's Organized Team Activity practice. The procedure is needed to correct tendon damage and likely will sideline the second-year defender until training camp, per Klis.
A backup within Denver's stacked edge corps, Cooper was made the 239th overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft not long before undergoing heart ablation surgery, prompted by a pre-draft medical check that revealed a rapid heartbeat. Nevertheless, he prospered.
The Ohio State product logged 16 appearances, including five starts, as a rookie for the Broncos, totaling 22 solo tackles, four tackles for loss, seven quarterback hits, and 2.5 sacks. Pro Football Focus assigned him the eighth-best coverage grade (78.4) across 435 defensive reps.
The Broncos evidently weren't comfortable heading into 2022 with Cooper atop the depth chart, which explains their $70 million splash for Randy Gregory and second-round selection of Nik Bonitto. Elsewhere in the pecking order — to say nothing of OLB1 Bradley Chubb — are returning veteran Malik Reed, sophomore Baron Browning, and undrafted rookie Christopher Allen, a priority free-agent signing.
"We can’t have enough [pass rushers]," general manager George Paton said in April. "Randy Gregory, Malik Reed, Jonathon Cooper—that’s how you win when you get a wave. You get a wave of rushers, and you get an offense that can score points, you get leads, and then you throw this pass rush at them."
Upon successful rehabilitation from his finger ailment, Cooper should maintain a rotational role behind Chubb and Bonitto while also moonlighting on special teams, where he played 62% of snaps last season.
Follow Zack on Twitter @KelbermanNFL
Subscribe to Mile High Huddle on YouTube for daily Broncos live-stream podcasts!