ALAMEDA – Raiders receiver Amari Cooper’s production has taken a dip in recent weeks. His catches are down. So are his total yards.
He hasn’t exceeded 60 receiving yards since Week 8, with lower numbers since the Week 10 bye. Cooper has two explosive touchdowns in that span, but he hasn’t been the consistently productive threat he was earlier this year.
Teams were getting sick of No. 89 winning favorable matchups. These days, those are hard to come by.
“I’ve seen more double coverage, more safeties over the top and guys following me around,” Cooper said before Tuesday’s practice. “There has been more of that recently.”
That means smaller totals in a Raiders offense with several dynamic skill players. Quarterback Derek Carr will throw it where they ain’t, towards weakness in coverage.
“There are some times where we like to get him the ball, but I’m never going to force it to somebody and put the team in a bad spot,” Carr said. “He’s obviously a great playmaker and you want the ball in his hands.”
Cooper has had the football in hand less lately. The second-year pro has averaged 3.6 catches and 39 receiving yards per game since the bye.
He averaged 7.6 catches and 105 receiving yards per game in the five games prior to the bye.
Cooper is worried about wins over stats. While he certainly wants to make big plays, Cooper’s content being a distraction if it opens up room for other skill players.
“That’s exactly how I look at it,” Cooper said. “It definitely gives other guys more opportunities. We have plenty of capable receivers on this team who can make plays. I don’t really worry about it.”
That’s an anti-receiver attitude that fits well with the Raiders offense and Carr, who remains comfortable going to the open guy.
“We’ve seen our running backs and tight ends gain explosive yards,” Carr said. “If people try and take away one person with double teams or putting their best guy on someone, it will open up opportunities for other guys. We have a lot of other guys who are pretty good.”