Raiders’ Cooper continues ascendance to elite status


The Raiders rank seventh in total offense, in large part due to the chemistry and growth between third-year quarterback Derek Carr and second-year wide receiver Amari Cooper.

Cooper has upped his game a notch over the past two weeks. He torched the San Diego Chargers week 5 for 138 yards and a touchdown, and he did the same to Kansas City last week.

Against the Chiefs, Cooper hauled in 10 catches for 129 yards, nine of which came in the first half.

Carr attributes Cooper’s growth to good weeks of practice:

“The last couple of weeks have been his best practice weeks. I’m a big believer in you have to go out to practice and treat it like a game. You can’t go out there and jog, you can’t do those things. Not to say (Cooper) was doing those things, but for whatever reason he’s making these crazy plays in practice and it’s happening in the games.”

The big plays have been coming in bunches the past two weeks. Cooper ranks fourth in the league with 585 receiving yards, and he abused Chiefs’ cornerback Phillip Gaines on Sunday.

On the Raiders first drive alone, Cooper hauled in three catches for 51 yards. His precise route running put Gaines into a tailspin on a couple of plays, and Cooper capitalized with huge chunks of yardage.

Carr said he wasn’t even aware of Cooper’s monster half:

“I went to check the score, the timeouts and the clock to check the situation, and I looked up at one moment and saw he had over 100 yards. I didn’t even know…It’s just one of those things man; when someone is hot, the ball just seems to find them.”

It’s no surprise Cooper has been so successful, even though he is only in his second year in the NFL.

He was picked by the Raiders fourth overall in 2015, and he was the most polished wide receiver in the draft. Cooper hauled in 31 touchdowns and 3,463 yards during his three-year tenure with the Crimson Tide.

His crisp route running and deceptive straight-line speed make him a serious threat on offense.

Cooper attributes his success to working hard in practice:

“I’m just staying the course, practicing hard and trying to do everything the right way and the results will follow.”

He may already be considered on of the top receivers in the league, but Cooper and Carr acknowledged there is still room to improve.

A point of emphasis the past few weeks for Cooper has been to try to drag his toe better when going out-of-bounds. In college, it is only required to get one foot down inbounds to haul in a catch, and Cooper is still adjusting to getting both feet inbounds at the pro level.

In the Raiders home win over the Chargers, Cooper and Carr said they felt they left a lot of points on the field. Carr hit Cooper a couple of times in the end zone, and Cooper was unable to drag his second foot on either occasion, resulting in some incompletions.

Instead of putting seven points on the board, the Raiders had to settle for field goals.

Carr said Cooper’s worked hard on keeping his feet inbounds:

“We’ve talked about the sideline deal, and he’s worked extremely hard at that. You see him making two, three, four catches along the sideline. Over and over again, keeping those feet in and dragging the foot and all those things. When you get into that second year things start clicking, and I think he’s figuring it out.”

Against the Chiefs, the improvement was noticeable. Cooper made several acrobatic catches along the sideline, and he made a conscious effort to keep both feet inbounds.

Cooper said:

“I made it an emphasis last week in practice and it showed up.”

Cooper will get a chance for his third-straight 100-yard receiving game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

Safety, transit imp­rovements planned for San Bruno Avenue

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