New England Patriots fans have seen little thus far of guard Jonathan Cooper, who suffered a foot injury three days into training camp and missed the entire preseason as a result.
Carson Palmer has a message for those fans: Just wait. It’ll be worth it.
The Arizona Cardinals quarterback, who spent three seasons with Cooper before the lineman was dealt to the Patriots in the Chandler Jones trade, gushed about his ex-teammate Wednesday during a conference call with New England media members.
“I hated seeing him go,” said Palmer, whose Cardinals host the Patriots this Sunday night in Week 1 of the regular season. “(He’s) extremely talented.”
Cooper’s 5.07-second 40-yard dash at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine was the second-fastest among guards behind Kyle Long, and his athleticism immediately was evident to Palmer.
“To see him move, especially on the screens and inside, he’s so athletic for how big he is,” Palmer said. “He’s not really tall, but he uses it to his advantage, because he gets low, and he plays with great leverage. He’s really long, so he doesn’t get reached. I really, really liked having the chance to play with him for a little bit.”
Why only “a little bit”? Because injuries littered Cooper’s Cardinals tenure, including a broken leg that cost him his entire rookie season. Interestingly, Palmer singled out that play — which came during the No. 7 overall draft pick’s very first preseason game — when talking up Cooper’s athletic ability.
“He made one of the more athletic plays I’ve ever seen from a guard on a play that he got hit really awkwardly and broke his ankle his rookie year,” Palmer said. “… He got hit really, really awkwardly and broke his ankle real bad, and then didn’t play a whole lot after that. But I really liked the potential, and I think he’s in a good spot (now with the Patriots).”
Cooper wouldn’t reveal much about his status to reporters Tuesday — saying only that he was “getting better and continuing to improve” — but the Patriots’ decision to release right guard Josh Kline earlier this week could mean the 26-year-old is good to go for Sunday’s season opener.
“Getting a fresh start sometimes is really, really good, and I’m excited for (Cooper),” Palmer said. “Hopefully he gets back healthy and gets rolling again.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images