Amari Cooper is one of the NFL’s best route runners. He has a knack for finding open holes in the defense and making plays with his speed, quickness, and hands.
Amari Cooper is one of the NFL’s best route runners. He has a great combination of speed and quickness that makes him a threat to score anytime he touches the ball.
FRISCO, Texas (KTRK) — As he sprints, Amari Cooper’s feet seem to barely touch the earth.
While others pound the grass with their feet, Cooper, the Dallas Cowboys’ $20 million-a-year receiver, seems to hover before planting his right foot in the ground and bursting back to his left like a speeding sports car.
Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore remarked, “He definitely has a very nice speed about him.” “He prefers to play at a faster speed on his routes, and although he has that change of pace, he also has that suddenness in which he goes when he goes. That’s a fantastic weapon for him, in my opinion.”
The Philadelphia Eagles, Cooper’s Monday night opponent at AT&T Stadium (ESPN, 8:15 p.m. ET), should have a better understanding of Cooper’s route-running skills.
Cooper has caught 33 receptions for 614 yards and four touchdowns in seven career games versus the Eagles. Since being traded to the Cowboys in 2018, he has played in six games, three of which have resulted in more over 100 yards. His greatest game as a Cowboy came in his sixth season after being traded from the Oakland Raiders, when he caught ten receptions for 217 yards and three touchdowns. Cooper, on the other hand, suffered rib injuries in Week 2’s victory against the Los Angeles Chargers and is doubtful.
The Eagles may use Cooper’s Instagram account @therouterunnerofficial, which he established earlier this month, to get a better feel on him.
Cooper said, “It’s for everyone, dude.” “It’s a trademark. I realize that some individuals may not know much about football but yet like watching it. Because so many people watch football, it’s just a way of teaching them the finer aspects of the game. Because even those who play and understand football are unfamiliar with the subtleties of route running. That’s why it’s been so enjoyable.”
Cooper had the concept a few months ago. He was reading “The Airbnb Story,” a book on the founding and development of the internet housing business, as well as “Shoe Dog,” a memoir by Nike co-founder Phil Knight.
Cowboys WR Amari Cooper has 33 receptions for 614 yards and four touchdowns in seven career games versus the Eagles. USA TODAY Sports/Tim Heitman
Cooper stated, “It sort of made perfect sense with what I want to accomplish.” “[Knight] was jogging one day because he was a runner and he had no idea what he wanted to accomplish with his life. He didn’t sure what he wanted to pursue after graduation and came up with the concept of running shoes on the spur of the moment. Because he’s a runner and I’m a route runner, that made perfect sense to me.”
He’s arguably one of the greatest route runners in the NFL, but he prioritizes himself.
He grinned and said, “Of course.” “It’s THE route runner for a reason.”
Davante Adams, a Green Bay Packers receiver, recently listed his best route runners and neglected to include Cooper. Since then, he’s been kicking himself.
“Right now, if you asked me to name my groomsmen, I’d definitely leave one off,” Adams remarked. “Coop is without a doubt in my top five, so I’d want to give him that credit first because anybody who can influence a DB and really get him to do what is meant every single time — which is something I take pleasure in — I feel like I can really get you to move correctly whenever I want to. I, too, am a fan of Coop’s film… It’s between myself, him, and [Chargers receiver] Keenan [Allen] how we attack people and sort of manipulate a defense. Because we move people in similar ways, I have a lot of respect for Coop.”
This season, Amari Cooper has put on a route-running masterclass.
pic.twitter.com/FzTmStcRa6 (via @thecheckdown)
November 14, 2019 — ESPN (@espn)
Adams and Allen are two of Cooper’s favorite route runners. He also has Stefon Diggs of the Buffalo Bills, as well as two Alabama alums in the Falcons’ Calvin Ridley and the Raiders’ Jerry Jeudy.
Ridley began following Cooper while he was in high school. Since then, they’ve spoken on a few occasions.
“He’s one of the people I’m always keeping an eye on,” Ridley added. “By just observing him, I could learn from him at any moment, on any day.”
Cooper created therouterunnerofficial brand to address this issue. He posts footage of routes in practices and games on his Instagram feed and asks viewers questions.
“It’s something simple since it’s something I like doing and have done my entire life,” he said. “At the same time, it’s entertaining. When people ask me about route running, I get a kick out of it.”
Cooper is just 27 years old, but he is a seasoned presence in the Cowboys’ wide receivers group. He’s constantly offering advise. HBO’s “Hard Knocks” cameras captured him instructing CeeDee Lamb various releases to get a defender off the mark early in his comeback from offseason ankle surgery in training camp.
“He offered me the hints,” Lamb recalled, “like how to maneuver a person or simply be deceitful.” “He’s a great listener. Very laid-back. It’s simple to figure out what he’s thinking.”
“It would be a disservice to my teammates who are doing the same job as me if I saw them running a route that wasn’t the ideal way to do it and didn’t say something,” Cooper said.
Cooper claims that his route-running talent was given to him by God, but it also stems from the hard work he put in as a kid in Miami. He began his football career in an after-school program.
“That’s when I became into a technician because everyone was so excellent,” Cooper said. “You had to concentrate on the little nuances of route running because everyone would play receiver.” “I’m not sure if you’re aware, but when you play football in an unstructured fashion, you have a quarterback and everyone else plays receiver. He was the quarterback for our after-school program counselor. He’ll only toss it to you if you’re willing to accept it. ‘Why didn’t you toss the ball to me?’ you may ask if you go back to him. ‘You ain’t getting open,’ he’ll tell you. So I began looking for methods to open myself.”
Cooper has mastered the basics of running a slant or a comeback over the years, but he has added his own flair to each.
Cooper compared it to the difference between going to school and learning something and really working. “It’s almost as if you can see the disparities between what you studied in school and what you can really accomplish, if that makes sense.”
With a variety of releases intended to throw the cornerback off, he paints outside the lines, so to speak. But the most important thing is to earn the quarterback’s confidence in being at the appropriate depth or breadth as specified by the playcall.
Dak refuses to give up on the play.
: https://t.co/0VSAGL68p0 pic.twitter.com/3Fg7dNqrat #DALvsTB on NBC: https://t.co/0VSAGL68p0
10 September 2024 — NFL (@NFL)
“With [Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott], things are intriguing. He is unconcerned about what I do. He is unconcerned “Cooper said. “He just wants to double-check that I understand what he needs to accomplish. For example, the touchdown on the cone route versus Tampa Bay. ‘I’m going to this release,’ I told him in practice. This is something I’m going to do.’ ‘I don’t care,’ he says. As soon as I see you break, I’m tossing it to a place.’ What’s hilarious is that the snap was mismanaged, which only proves that he was speaking the truth since he still threw it to that location. It didn’t make a difference what I did. He threw it to that location just as I was breaking.”
Cooper’s route running is admired by his teammates. They are aware that they are seeing something unique. Michael Gallup, Cooper’s fellow receiver who is recovering from a calf injury, was asked to characterize Cooper’s style.
“When he goes up there, he knows what he wants to accomplish,” Gallup observed, “but even if his ideas alter, he’s so excellent at creating something out of nothing.” “But, having a strategy when he gets to the finish line, he simply knows in his mind, resolve, that he’ll win whatever. That’s exactly what he’s told us time and time again. Even if he doesn’t receive the ball, he’s going to win straight away. So it’s basically just intuition, strength, and speed. You can’t put one adjective on Amari Cooper because he has too many. You can’t do it.”
It’s two words, not one: route runner.
Green Bay Packers reporter Rob Demovsky and Atlanta Falcons reporter Michael Rothstein contributed to this story for NFL Nation.
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