FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots fans have been itching to see what guard Jonathan Cooper and cornerback Eric Rowe can do ever since the team acquired both players in high-profile trades.
Cooper and Rowe finally might make their long-awaited Patriots debuts this weekend against the Cleveland Browns after coming off the injury report.
Cooper, who came over from the Cardinals in the trade that sent Chandler Jones to Arizona, has been dealing with a foot injury since the second day of training camp. Cooper has been limited in practice all season but finally was deemed 100 percent by the team Wednesday.
“It’s nice to continue to work, get better, improve every day,” Cooper said Thursday. “Pretty much just coming off the injury report, it was like, ‘All right.’ Now I’ll just continue to work, continue to improve day by day and see how I can help the team.”
The Patriots began the season by rotating Shaq Mason and Ted Karras at right guard, with rookie Joe Thuney being a mainstay at left guard. Mason has taken control of the right guard role, but Cooper could be rotated into the offensive line if he makes his debut this weekend. He’s a former top-10 draft pick and has the potential to be one of the Patriots’ top offensive linemen if he can stay healthy.
Rowe suffered an ankle injury shortly after being acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles for a conditional fourth-round draft pick. The 2015 second-round pick could rotate for snaps at nickel cornerback with Justin Coleman and Cyrus Jones, both of whom have been playing behind starters Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan.
“It kind of sucks just sitting to the side,” Rowe said Thursday. “It’s good to get the wins, but you feel like you didn’t really help. I just want to contribute to the wins.”
Rowe, at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, has more length than the rest of the Patriots’ cornerback corps. He played cornerback and safety with the Eagles and in college at Utah, but he said he has worked exclusively at cornerback since coming to the Patriots.
Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images
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