Jonathan Cooper ‘finally’ looks like the player Arizona Cardinals thought they drafted

Dec 1, 2014, 11:48 PM | Updated: 11:48 pm
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LISTEN: Steve Keim, Arizona Cardinals general manager

TEMPE, Ariz. — As the Arizona Cardinals have continued to struggle in the running game, many wondered why Jonathan Cooper was not given a shot.

The seventh pick in the 2013 draft, the left guard, they believed, could be part of the solution. In fact, a “#FreeCooper” movement was even started on Twitter.

Though it’s doubtful anyone involved with the Cardinals’ decision-making was aware of the movement — or would even care, for that matter — Cooper got the most extensive playing time of his NFL career in Sunday’s 29-18 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Cooper was in for 42 snaps, 40 of which came on offense, with the majority being at left guard.

“Coop, he did OK for his first outing,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said, pointing to his snap count. “He went caveman a few times, lost all his technique and just tried to fight. But that’s understandable.”

Arians said the game seemed to slow down for Cooper the more he played, and showed some “twitch” and “some power”, which they always thought he had but wanted to see.

He added it was not Cooper’s best performance, but ultimately there were enough positives to feel good coming out of the game.

Arizona GM Steve Keim, as a guest of Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Monday, called Cooper one of the few bright spots in an otherwise sub-par afternoon Sunday.

“Coop got a lot of playing time, knocked some rust off,” he said. “There were some things technically and with fundamentals, with footwork and the combination blocks where just patience and timing he was off a little bit.

“But I will tell you this: he finally looks like the guy we drafted in terms of quickness and movement. I mean, he looked like, compared to the four other offensive linemen we had out there, he looked like he was playing at a different speed.”

Keim, who complimented Cooper’s lateral quickness, speed and range, noted this won’t be the last we see of him for a while.

“I think you’ll see quite a bit more Coop in the next several weeks,” he said.

Some of that may be out of necessity. Arizona’s starting right guard, Paul Fanaika, suffered an ankle sprain Sunday and his status going forward is in question. If he’s out, the Cardinals will keep Cooper at left guard and move Ted Larsen, who had been filling that position, to the right side.

But though you can expect to see more Cooper in the coming games, either to get him more reps or because of injury, that does not mean he is ready to supplant anyone in the starting lineup.

Asked if Cooper performed well enough Sunday to warrant that kind of consideration, Arians was direct.

“Not yet,” he said. “Not in those 40 plays.”

Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson (39) runs against Arizona Cardinals strong safety Deone Bucannon (36) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson ) Atlanta Falcons tight end Levine Toilolo (80) makes a touch-down catch against the Arizona Cardinalsduring the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Devin Hester (17) works against Arizona Cardinals punter Drew Butler (2) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) Atlanta Falcons free safety Dwight Lowery (20) runs after making an interception against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. Atlanta Falcons Prince Shembo (53) William Moore (25) look on. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones hits the turf for a touchdown as Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) defends and Side Judge James Coleman watches the play during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Atlanta Falcons free safety Dwight Lowery (20) collides with Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton (5) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Atlanta Falcons free safety Dwight Lowery (20) runs by Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington (38) after Lowery intercepted a passed ball during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas (83) runs toward Arizona Cardinals free safety Rashad Johnson (26) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) runs over Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21)during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas (83) runs into Arizona Cardinals middle linebacker Larry Foote (50) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Arizona Cardinals free safety Rashad Johnson (26) runs after he intercepted the ball and Atlanta Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers (32) attempts a tackle during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. Johnson scored a touchdown on the play. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (97) prepares to tackle Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) is hit by Arizona Cardinals strong safety Deone Bucannon (36) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson ) Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) leaps over Arizona Cardinals cornerback Jerraud Powers (25) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson ) Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Devin Hester (17) misses a ball as Arizona Cardinals free safety Rashad Johnson (26) looks on during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant (21) runs back a fumbled ball against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) moves past Arizona Cardinals middle linebacker Larry Foote (50) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant (21) runs a fumbled ball back against Arizona Cardinals tight end Darren Fells (85) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians speaks on the sidelines during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) Atlanta Falcons free safety Dwight Lowery (20) defends as Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd (15) makes the catch during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. The ball was stripped from Floyd and Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant recovered the ball (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Atlanta Falcons defensive end Stansly Maponga (90) hits Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton (5) causing a fumble during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) works against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Atlanta Falcons strong safety Kemal Ishmael (36) vies for a loose ball with Arizona Cardinals running back Marion Grice (23) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. The Atlanta Falcons recovered the fumbled ball. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) runs against Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith watches play against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Atlanta Falcons defensive end Jonathan Babineaux (95) and Atlanta Falcons defensive end Cliff Matthews (98) try to tackle Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton (5) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Atlanta Falcons defensive end Jonathan Babineaux hits Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton (5) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Arizona Cardinals running back Marion Grice (23) runs against Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant (21) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Atlanta Falcons cornerback Josh Wilson (26) celebrates his interception with Atlanta Falcons' Kemal Ishmael during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson ) Atlanta Falcons cornerback Robert McClain (27) celebrates an interception by Atlanta Falcons' Josh Wilson during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) Arizona Cardinals running back Stepfan Taylor (30) runs in a two-point conversion against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith left, speaks with Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians after the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. The Atlanta Falcons won 29-18. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, left, speaks with Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton after the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. The Atlanta Falcons won 29-18. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

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