Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians called out guard Jonathan Cooper Saturday for his lack of progression on the field, wanting more out of the 2013 7th overall pick.
On Monday, Cooper had a chance to respond to Arians, saying he is putting a positive spin on the comments and accepts the Cardinals’ second-year head coach’s call to step up.
“Him calling me out it just is what it is, it’s a challenge,” Cooper said. “I haven’t yet reached those expectations that he has for me or that I have for myself.”
The former Outland Trophy Finalist out of the University of North Carolina had his progression come to an abrupt halt when he suffered a broken leg against the San Diego Chargers in the 2013 preseason.
While Cooper is close to full physical health again, he admitted the injury is still holding him back mentally. The hurdle Cooper has to clear between his ears may be the toughest one, but he’s persistent.
“There are some times on film where I’ll notice that subconsciously I may pull up or do something.” Cooper said. “I continue to work on it, continue to get the live reps, and continue to get comfortable.”
How does Cooper get over the mental hump? According to six-year Cardinals veteran defensive end Calais Campbell, it’s about Cooper’s ability to reassure himself that he knows what he’s doing on the football field.
“He’s a good player and he’s going to be good for a lot of years to come, he just has to get his confidence back and that takes a little while,” Campbell said. “I think in the next week or two he’ll gain his confidence and be a strong player.”
Arians moved Cooper to second string Saturday, giving guard Earl Watford a shot with the first team offense, after Daryn Colledge started all 16 games last season in place of Cooper.
The 24-year-old knows his injury isn’t an excuse for not doing well in training camp, but is trying to keep a upbeat attitude about the situation.
“I just got to keep continuing to work hard and be the best player I can be,” Cooper said. “Some of that has been slowed a little bit but that’s what I continue to push for, to be 100 percent, not just physically and mentally, but also the little aspects of quickness.”