The 2017 NFL season was a letdown for the Oakland Raiders as they missed the postseason despite an encouraging 2016. After the poor finish, the Raiders managed to lure Jon Gruden out of the broadcasting booth and onto their sideline.
A major reason for Oakland’s lackluster season was the inconsistency of Amari Cooper. Cooper, who has taken fourth overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, has established himself as one of the better receivers in the league but has been tailed off during the second half of every season.
According to Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area, Gruden laid out his expectations for Cooper:
He has to get healthy and stay healthy,” Gruden said. “We need him to be the player he was the first two years. I’ve said it earlier. We’re going to make him the main vein of our passing offense and move him around a lot.
“…We are really excited about him. I think he’s entering the prime of his career.”
Cooper, who will only be 24 years old during the 2018 NFL season, is a legitimate downfield threat due to his combination of size, speed, and length. The two-time Pro Bowler, however, never seemed to get going last season as he dealt with injuries and struggled to catch the football.
With the recent signing of Jordy Nelson, Cooper should be able to find more room to operate as opposing defenses will need to focus on both players. Cooper is a prime candidate to have a bounce-back season and it will be interesting to see how well he adjusts to Gruden’s system once the new season kicks off.