No preseason, no problem for Amari Cooper.
The Dallas Cowboys’ top wide receiver is improving in his recovery from a quasi-mysterious foot injury and “on schedule” to start the Sept. 8 season-opener against the New York Giants, head coach Jason Garrett announced Monday.
Per Garett, Cooper will not practice this week — by design — as Dallas preps for Thursday’s preseason finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The plan remains for him to be in the lineup when the games start counting.
Cooper admitted on Aug. 21 that he’s dealing with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, an injury that was initially classified as a heel bruise.
“I’m not worried about it at all, because I know if it does linger, it doesn’t matter,” he said, via the Cowboys’ official website. “I had 1,000 yards on a plantar fasciitis foot, so I’m not really worried.”
Cooper, the No. 4 overall pick of the Oakland Raiders in 2015, was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis — inflammation of the tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes — as a rookie. He gutted through it, starting 15 of 16 regular season games and catching 72 passes for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns, earning his first Pro Bowl selection.
The injury popped up again earlier this month. Cooper hasn’t practiced since Aug. 3, but he’s unnerved, classifying the pain as a three on a scale of 1-10.
“Like I said, it’s not really that bad – especially just walking around,” he said, adding the pain is “subsiding.” “But to do the things that I do on the field, obviously, I’ll be cutting really hard, stopping really hard, those things. I haven’t tried to really do that, so I couldn’t really tell you.”
Conflicting information has emerged regarding what, exactly, is hampering Cooper. One report indicated he’s suffering from an “intrinsic muscle strain,” which Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones appeared to echo, terming the issue “more of a muscle strain.”
Regardless, Cooper isn’t yet 100 percent, unable to properly cut despite running at full speed. He’s been treated with kid gloves for good reason: the team cannot afford to lose the 25-year-old beyond this month.
Provided he sustains no setbacks, Cooper will work as Dak Prescott’s No. 1 WR, opposite Michael Gallup, versus Big Blue.
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Nothing New on Negotiations
Dallas continues haggling with its trio of offensive weapons (Cooper, Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott), all seeking massive paydays. After signing linebacker Jaylon Smith to a lucrative extension, the team hasn’t made tangible progress with any of the Big Three. Last we heard, owner Jerry Jones was comparing these talks to a horrible traffic accident …
“Picture you were a driver of a car and you had a wreck and your hand was almost severed off, but you didn’t understand your anatomy,” Jones said on Aug. 13, via the Dallas Morning News. “You look down, you’re spurting blood, you open the door, and run to the woods, and either die bleeding to death or shock. The educated man looks down, knows his anatomy, squeezes and knows his best chance is to wait for help. That’s because he’s been there a lot and done that. So I’m squeezing and waiting for help.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter @KelbermanNFL