ARLINGTON - There is no need for the NFL preseason.
Unless, of course, you are Amari Cooper. And you believe you need it.
“It went well. I felt good,” Cooper said Saturday night's 20-14 exhibition game loss to the visiting Houston Texans. “This was the first time I really needed those reps before the first game.”
Cooper, of course, underwent ankle surgery during the offseason and the rehab has been a rather slow one; he just started practicing with the Cowboys at the beginning of the week. But he wanted to play "10 snaps'' in this game in order, essentially, to get his mind right with route running.
He didn't catch a pass.
He didn't get a target.
But it seems he got his mind right.
“I wouldn’t say I’m rusty,'' said the four-time Pro Bowler, "I would say I haven’t played in a long time. I haven’t run routes against somebody in a long time.''
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Cooper stayed on PUP for the bulk of training camp in Oxnard, but at the same time prides himself on preparation. He's carrying less weight than he has at any time in his NFL career, and both in Thursday's full workout at The Star in Frisco and on Saturday inside AT&T Stadium, his movements were smooth and crisp.
Said coach Mike McCarthy: "Amari's had a great week of practice. Just to really get him back in there was the point. Frankly, we just played Amari, Michael (Gallup) and CeeDee (Lamb) the first two series, just wanted to get them approximately 10 to 12 snaps."
Dallas' Big 3 receiver trio has a chance to do big things in teaming with the "ramping-up'' QB Dak Prescott. But Cooper said that all this time off meant it "felt kind of foreign for me to be practicing.''
And that won't do. So full-speed it was.
The ankle checked. The mind tested. The "meaningless'' having meaning.
"I needed,'' Cooper said, looking forward to Dallas' regular-season opener on Sept. 9 at Tampa Bay, "to get that feel of competing before it actually matters.”
The need fulfilled.
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