ALAMEDA – Raiders receiver Amari Cooper took off down the left sideline, and quarterback Derek Carr threw before he was wide open. That confidence was rewarded. Cooper created separation without losing full speed.
He soared over Sean Smith and snatched an excellently thrown ball for a big gain during Tuesday’s Raiders minicamp practice.
It wasn’t unique.
Cooper bested David Amerson down the right sideline during a two-minute drill later in the session.
Chemistry with Carr is evident from all distances, but the pair are this offseason working on taking yards in big chunks. Cooper is clearly bigger this offseason, hoping added bulk will sustain his production later in the year regardless of pass distance.
Carr sees a driven, more aggressive competitor on the verge of a breakout season even after two Pro Bowl campaigns. That should help downfield, even in tight coverage.
“That just dog in him is coming out,” Carr said. "That thing that you saw at Alabama where he’ll just take things over, and not to say that he hasn’t because he has, but I just think that’s it’s not just becoming a thing of what game it’s going to be, it’s becoming a thing where that’s who he is. DBs better know that he’s really taking it serious that he’s trying to go attack them this year.
“He’s not going to let them come to him anymore, and I think that just comes with age and seeing him do it out here. The guy has been going off all camp, all offseason. We were kind of just laughing at how impressed we were.”
Cooper had 21 receptions of 20 yards or more last season, though he’s well known for creating after the catch. Cooper can go downfield and get it even at 6-foot-1, as he has in practice several times this offseason.
“It’s something that we want to continue to grow at because you hit on those deep balls," Carr said. “There are a couple of times we hit them early in games and it gets in not only the player’s head that’s guarding him, but the coach’s head. Do you want to leave him on that island? What do you want to do? When you do, are they going to play hard over the top?
"And then you get everything else working for you, so working on that deep ball is always important. Me and ‘Coop,’ it’s something that we work very hard at. We want to continue to hit a lot of those during the games.”