WR Amari Cooper (1.4.24)


How’s the heel and how were you able to make it through that record-setting game?

“Yeah, the heel, I mean, it’s getting better every day. I just persevered through it. Kind of get a feeling early in the game as a receiver. I had two catches early on, so I kind of felt like it was going to be a good day, so I had to fight through it.”


It happened on the first play?

“It happened on my second catch.”


How do you feel about making the Pro bowl on another team? 

“Yeah, I mean, it’s a good feeling to make the Pro Bowl, to be recognized by your peers, by the league.


With that heel, do you expect to be back at 100% for the playoffs? Do you expect to be able to play? 

“Yeah, I definitely do. Like I said before, it’s getting better every day, around the clock treatment and everything like that. So, I definitely should be good to go.”


With Joe (Flacco) being held back this weekend. Are you anticipating that you’re going to get the weekend off, too? Just to give you some more time? 

“Yeah, and I’ll need that rest. We get time off. It’s going to be good for injuries.”


What can these games where starers are sitting and resting and the other guys can step up? What can do for them mentally heading into playoffs? Just like some of the younger guys. 

“Yeah, it’s an amazing opportunity to go out there, to be able to start in the NFL game, be able to display your talents. These guys have been developing all season long and they finally get an opportunity to show what that development was all about.”


So did you think right up until game time that you were going to be able to play against the Jets?

“Yeah, I was looking forward to playing. I hadn’t ran since the game Sunday, so I don’t really look forward to sitting out. Tried to do some pregame stuff. Just wasn’t really able to.”


Do you think if it hadn’t been a Thursday game turnaround that you would have been able to play? 

“I don’t know.”


Just in terms of, you know Joe (Flacco) is kind of done for the regular season. Can you kind of encapsulate a little bit just what he’s meant to you guys and just how well he’s done in those final five days he’s played for you? 

“Yeah, Joe has played really well. It’s been a lot of guys really taking a liking towards him. He just came in and did his job. Been a complete professional, so he’s meant a lot.”


We talked about overcoming injuries a lot. Was there a point where you said, hey, this team is good enough, deep enough, we’re going to be okay and able to overcome everything you wind up having overcome?

“Yeah. At the end of the day, depth is really important. You have to have a lot of good players at a lot of different positions. But that’s why we train. That’s why the team hires great coaches and things of that nature. That’s why the team goes out and pick up quality players in the offseason because of situations that are inevitable throughout the course of the season, like guys getting hurt. So, I wasn’t really worried about injuries, things of that nature, because I knew we had the right guys.”


Aside from you making the Pro Bowl, David (Njoku) getting his first Pro bowl, just what can you say about the year that he’s had and the growth that you’ve seen from him the last couple of years he’s been here? 

“Yeah, it’s my second year playing with Dave. Just his willingness to get better, his willingness to learn, him wanting to get better each and every day. Dave has a lot of talent, a lot of speed, a lot of good qualities for this position. He’s very strong, great blocker. Sky is really the limit for him because I can see him continuing to get better each and every year, even though he’s in his seventh year. So, I’m happy for him that he got his first Pro Bowl. We’re proud of him, but I’m sure that there are many more.”


Did you get the sense it was only a matter of time for him (David Njoku)? I know you’ve only been with him for a couple of years, but as you mentioned, the talent now, kind of the production and the potential.

“I really can’t speak on the years that I wasn’t here with him. As an NFL player, you don’t really get to watch other players too watch, especially players that are playing your position or your opposing position. So, I don’t really know what his career was like before I got here, to be honest. But I know when I did get here, one of the things I recognized about him is he’s really fast as a tight end. Usually, when you have like a tight end that has a lot of good speed and stuff like that, usually they’re only good for passing, but I noticed right away that Dave, he’s a great blocker as well.”


Did coaching shift at all for you? Do you do anything different from the playoff side? 

“No, I don’t do anything different. I mean, obviously there’s heighted awareness. You might want to do a little extra, pushups, run a little bit more because you do get excited for the playoffs. Teams, I would say from my experience, they become more intentional. The game plan is a little bit sharper. Everything is just a little bit sharper. So, you want to stay sharp.”


The idea that there’s like a lull when guys rest before a playoff game. They get like time off at the end of the season and then maybe they come out sluggish in that game. How do you guys kind of combat that? And how true do you think that really is? 

“Yeah, I would say it’s just an idea. It’s like the whole Monday morning quarterback thing. Like quarterback plays bad, easy to evaluate his performance the day after and say, well, he should have did this, he should have did that. It’s the same thing with resting players, because if a team goes out there and grinds the whole week, they’ll say they work too hard. So, you can never be right unless you win.”

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