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Cowboys Injury Reminds Amari Cooper 'How Much I Love The Game'; Camp Q&A

Pro Bowl receiver expects to be in starting lineup Week 1

Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper, on the PUP list with a nagging ankle injury, chatted with the media this week at training camp. The four-time Pro Bowler admits his rehab has “been longer than expected” and his not running full routes yet, but he’s getting “close to 100%.”

As for Week 1 against the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cooper expects to run out on the Raymond James Stadium turf with the rest of the starters.

“That’s the goal, yeah,” he said.

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In the meantime, Cooper shared thoughts on his rehab and mind set, receiving colleagues CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup, and more. Here are some key takeaways from Cooper’s media session.

How he’s feeling physically:

“I’m taking it real serious. Like I said, I want this to be the best season I’ve ever had playing football. You can’t just say those things. You can, but if you’re going to say it, you better back it up, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

On being the best you:

You know thing about being injured, you know obviously it’s the downside of your career, but the thing about being injured is it reminds you about how much you love the game. You see guys who get injured and they realize they don’t want to work through this process anymore, and they retire. That’s happened a lot. Me, it’s just shown me how much I want to be there. I miss it so much. I never wanted to run a route so bad. And, so, in that thought process, you just grind to get back healthy, and just try to be the best you can be.”

How close to running routes:

I’ve ran a slant. Yeah, I can run a slant easy. I could run a slant in my sleep, but those breaking-down routes. I can run them now. I’ve ran some with the trainer, like, real routes, but cutting drills, if you want to consider that a route. It’s like a route, but not really.”

Key to being reading despite missing time in camp:

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OXNARD, CA - JULY 24: Fullback Nick Ralston #46 of the Dallas Cowboys participates in drills during training camp at River Ridge Complex on July 24, 2021 in Oxnard, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

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“Confidence. Confidence. Obviously, you have to put the work in and I’ve been doing everything I could do that’s obviously not rep related at practice. But I still have confidence. I feel good. It’s what it’s about.”

Where he’s at in terms of weight:

“For the past three seasons, I’ve been about 225. I was trying — I came in about 212 in the league. You know, [Julio Jones], that’s like the guy at 'Bama. And I was accustomed to being small already, not small, but the smaller, quicker, fast receiver. I wanted to be that guy who was big with all of those qualities: big, strong, fast. And I did it, it was cool, but I didn’t notice a difference in terms of like if it was harder to tackle me or whatever. I was playing the same at the line of scrimmage. Guys didn’t really touch me. So, I didn’t feel like I needed to be that big anymore.”

On CeeDee Lamb exceeding your expectations:

“He’s not exceeding my expectations, nah. I knew the type of playmaker that he was coming out. He does a real good job of high pointing the ball. That’s one of the things that stands out about his game. He’s just like the rest of us: trying to be complete wide receivers. And I think he’s shown a lot of that out here.”

On the Michael Gallup contract situation:

“I’ve talked to him before about just the process, but every time I talk to him he seems to know, have a good grasp on what’s going on in terms of handling that process. So, I think he’s good.”

On Kellen Moore keeping everyone on offense happy:

“Winning. That’s how everybody will be happy. When you’re winning a lot of games, you know that something has to be going right. That’s all that matters to me. No matter what my stats look like, if we’re winning, I’m real happy. That’s what it’s about. When you win, no matter what your stats look like, in the coaches’ eyes and in the eyes of everybody else watching, everybody has done well. Everybody did good. So, that’s how I look at it.”

Leadership style similar to Randy Gregory:

“I look at Randy and I actually look at him the same way. Man, guys cleave to special players. He is a special player on the field. He makes plays. I’m always … like, what he’s done, last year was amazing to me. And I’ve never verbalized that to him.”