Arizona Cardinals’ fans know that the offensive line is an area that left much to be desired after watching their team over the past few years and they’re hoping some of the offseason additions at the position will make an impact this year.
One of the new members of the unit is offensive guard Jonathan Cooper from North Carolina. Cooper was selected seventh overall in the 2013 draft and he’s slowly but surely making the adjustment to the NFL.
“I mean it’s getting a little bit easier every day but really just still trying to focus on learning the playbook, the physical aspect of it will be there but really just trying to be more of a technician and more mentally sound,” said Cooper Monday after the start of another round of organized team activities or OTAs.
Rookies tend to struggle with some physical adjustments from college to the National Football League, but often times the biggest hurdle is information overload.
“Just the playbook, there are so many components to it, so many layers, so many different calls, so many different situations you’re in that you have to be prepared for,” said Cooper. “So that’s been the toughest part of the transition.”
Obviously being a first round draft pick, the Cardinals are expecting a lot from Cooper. He ran with the first team Monday and he has high standards for himself as well.
“I came to compete for the starting spot and if I’m given the opportunity, I’m going to try my best to take advantage of that.”
The 6-foot-2, 311-pound lineman has been in Arizona for workouts from day one. His contract isn’t done just yet, but Cooper doesn’t seem concerned about what’s going on off the field, only on it. He was never planning on holding out or not showing up.
“I honestly didn’t know that was an option,” he joked. “No, if I want to do what I have plans to do, then I have to be here. I can’t afford to miss time. That’s really just not an option for me. I’m just going to come here and show up every day, work as hard as I can and learn my playbook.”
As a senior at UNC, Cooper earned First Team All-ACC and All-American honors while also winning the ACC Jacobs Blocking Trophy.
“I think he’s getting so many reps, he can’t help but improve. He’s had a lot of things thrown at him and a lot of different looks defensively,” said Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians following Monday’s workout. “He’s holding his own and he’s not a rookie anymore; he’s already had enough snaps to be a sophomore.”
Heading into the draft, several analysts had Cooper as the highest-rated guard available. He’s very athletic and should be able to aid in the run game as well as pass protection.
So far Cooper is trying to take advantage of all the knowledge and facilities that are available to him.
“Oh man, I’ve learned so much, and even when they were gone and we were just working out getting in physical shape and along with learning my plays and having extra time here, I feel like it’s going to help me out tremendously.”