TEMPE, Ariz. — When the Arizona Cardinals take the field against the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football, Jonathan Cooper will be healthy enough to play.
Yet, if all goes according to plan, he won’t see a snap.
Not long ago, that wasn’t the plan at all.
Cooper’s travails have been well documented, as he’s worked to return to form after missing all last season due to a broken leg and then had his progress stunted by a turf toe injury suffered in the preseason opener. Cooper missed a significant amount of practice, and in the process lost his grasp on the left guard job.
Though he may still be the future at the position, at this point he is not the present. Right now, the job belongs to veteran Ted Larsen.
“He’s had his opportunity,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said of Cooper having a chance to earn a starting job. “You can’t get there in a day of practice, not after a month. Like I’ve said before, I don’t care about draft status: I want to see results on the field, and Ted Larsen’s way outplayed him.”
There’s little arguing that Larsen, entering his fifth NFL season after being selected in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots, had a better training camp than Cooper, the seventh overall selection in 2013.
Arians said the issue for Cooper earning the spot now is that practice time in pads is limited during the season, so it’s going to be tough to overtake Larsen. In fact, the coach said an injury to a teammate may be Cooper’s best bet to see the field.