Aug 9, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals offensive guard Jonathan Cooper (61) looks on during the second half against the Houston Texans at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
As the Arizona Cardinals continue their preparation for their week one match-up against the San Diego Chargers on Monday night, the Cardinals depth chart has begun to look more clear. One slight surprise is to see offensive guard, Jonathan Cooper, not starting on Monday night and, instead, its Ted Larsen.
Reason this could be considered a surprise is because Cooper was picked #7 overall in the NFL draft in 2013 but he broke his leg before he could play in a regular season game.
Now, Cooper is, supposedly, good to go so it would be expected to see him starting in week one, right?
According to Cardinals’ head coach, Bruce Arians, this is not the case.
Arians told azcentral.com, in regards to Cooper not starting, “I don’t care about draft status.” Arians would go on to say, “I want to see the results on the field, and Ted Larsen way outplayed (Cooper).”
This is how every NFL coach should evaluate their players when deciding starters and backups. Whether if a player was picked in the 1st round or went undrafted, their performance on the field should be the only indicator as to who should be playing on game day.
Since returning from his broken leg, Cooper has been struggling with a turf toe injury which tends to be a very slow recovery for most athletes.
Arians, in regards to Cooper’s toe injury:
"“His play before the injury wasn’t stellar. It looked like a guy that was coming back off a year’s injury. He’s going to be a heck of a player. It’s just a matter of time and taking the right approach with him and letting him get healthy.”"
Arians would go on say that Cooper’s only chance of getting playing time in a game, as of right now, would be if a starter goes down with an injury.
So how did Cooper handle the news? Here is what Cooper had to say:
"“I’ve still got a lot of work to do to get to the level that they expect as a starter and pro in the NFL,” he said. “I’ve got work to do and I completely understand it. It doesn’t make me any less hungry, so I’ve just got to continue to work.”"
This is exactly how Cooper should handle the situation. Cooper understands that his play has been below par and if there is someone else playing better than him, then they should play instead.
Even though Arians came out and clearly said Cooper will not start in week one, if I was Cooper, I would still feel optimistic about the whole situation. This is because Arians knows what Cooper is capable of becoming and there will be several opportunistic down the road for Cooper to showcase his abilities.
It is just not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when.”
The Cardinals will play their first regular season game against the San Diego Chargers in Week one. The game will be on Monday Night Football on September 8th at 7:20 p.m.
To view the full schedule, click here.
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