Cooper reaggravated a hamstring injury during practice and the Browns’ top pass-catcher was dubbed questionable for the prime-time matchup against Cleveland’s AFC North rival. Cooper has been able to battle through injury during his career but appears unlikely to go for Week 2, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“Browns’ WR Amari Cooper, who aggravated a groin injury at practice Saturday and is listed as questionable for Monday night, is considered unlikely to play vs. the Steelers, per source,” Schefter tweeted on Sunday.
Cooper had three receptions for 37 yards and tied for a team-high seven targets. But that’s not a good gauge of how involved he’ll be in the offense, with the Browns shifting to a more pass-heavy approach. Cleveland was unable to do that last weekend in some very soggy conditions but still came out with the dominant 24-3 victory against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Cooper has been banged up but has never missed an extended period of time during his career. He had core muscle surgery this offseason.
Elijah Moore, Browns Receivers Ready to Step Up
With Cooper out, more responsibility will fall on the rest of the depth chart, notably Elijah Moore. The Browns acquired Moore in a trade with the New York Jets this offseason and Cleveland plans to use him in a dynamic role, both as a receiver and as an option in the run game.
“I mean, we got to take the next steps. You know, we don’t know too much about what happened. You know, I’m saying I think that’s a coach question, not us,” Moore said on Saturday, September 16. “We don’t know how serious, if it’s serious at all. So we’re just going to pray. We’re going to pray for him and it’s always next man up. You can’t miss a step.”
Moore had three catches for a team-high 43 yards against the Bengals. He added two carries for 19 yards to help the Browns come out victorious.
“I was super excited. We won, and just to get out there to finally verse somebody else, too, was well overdue,” Moore said. “I think all of us couldn’t wait for the season to start, putting all the work that we put in and just to play, especially that team, I know that’s another big game that we all look forward to as well. So that was super fun. We got the win, and I think everyone who contributed, I think everybody came out pretty good.”
Browns Expected to Get Safety Juan Thornhill Back
The Browns are expected to have safety Juan Thornhill available after he missed Week 1. Thornhill is dealing with a calf injury but all signs point to him being on the field against the Steelers.
Thornhill has started 52 games in his career, collecting eight interceptions. He’s coming off his best season as a pro, notching 71 total tackles and posting a grade of 71.5 on Pro Football Focus.