The Dallas Cowboys‘ star wide receiver declared to reporters Friday that he’ll play in the team’s Week 11 matchup in the Motor City despite ongoing knee and ankle injuries.
“Wide receiver Amari Cooper (knee, ankle) politely declined to speak to the media Friday but he did say he is good to go for Sunday’s game at Detroit, which is all anybody wanted to probably know anyway,” ESPN’s Todd Archer wrote.
Cooper did not practice Wednesday and was merely a limited participant on Thursday and Friday. The Pro Bowl wideout isn’t hurting so much as the Cowboys are attempting to preserve him for a hopeful playoff run, however.
He emerged from Dallas’ loss to the Vikings last Sunday relatively unscathed, though no doubt sore — the good kind of sore — after toasting Minnesota’s overwhelmed secondary for a game-high 147 yards on 11 receptions, one of which went for a gorgeous 25-yard, toe-tapping, end zone-scraping touchdown.
Cooper’s theatrics, a highlight-reel featuring two other ridiculously high-concentration sideline catches, marveled all spectators — including Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who lauded the 25-year-old for his “brilliant” work.
Work that is second-nature to the NFL’s best route-runner and third-leading receiver (848 yards).
“I mean it’s just an awareness,” Cooper said after the game, per Archer. “You have to know where you are on the field. As far as the difficulty level, you just have to try to keep your feet down. A lot of times I’ve been in that situation before and my feet would come up. Just have to try to keep your feet down.”
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Cooper Has Potential Smash Spot at Lions
Knowing he’ll be out there, this is an extremely dustable foe for Cooper, even with the nagging lower-body issues. Only four teams currently surrender more passing yards per game than Detroit (272.4), whose top cornerback, Darius Slay, has been limited due to a neck injury.
Further, the 3-5-1 Lions have allowed 19 passing touchdowns compared to making just three interceptions through nine games. Opposing quarterbacks are averaging a terrific 100.0 rating when facing Matt Patricia’s squad, which has also ceded the fourth-most passes (40) of 20-plus yards and whose sack total (21) ranks 26th in the league.
In last week’s win over the Lions, Chicago Bears WR1 Allen Robinson notched six receptions on nine targets for 86 yards, exploiting Patricia’s zone defense. The Bears scored three times through the air — once each to a running back, wide receiver and tight end.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL