Category Archives: Amari Cooper

Raiders WR Amari Cooper Downplays Big Game

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) – Amari Cooper has spent most of this season answering questions about why he hasn’t been catching more passes after becoming the ninth receiver to top 1,000 yards in each of his first two years with the Oakland Raiders.

Instead of gloating after coming off the best game of his career with 11 catches for 210 yards last week against Kansas City, Cooper maintained the same even-keeled persona.

“I just play, man,” Cooper said Wednesday. “You try to play good every week. If it doesn’t happen I just move on. If I do play good, I just move on.”

While Cooper maintained that the lack of production after recording just nine catches for 51 yards during a four-game losing streak didn’t leave him frustrated, it must have come as some sort of relief for the Raiders (3-4) when he finally broke out in the 31-30 win over the Chiefs last Thursday night that might have saved Oakland’s season.

Cooper caught a 38-yard TD pass off a flea-flicker to cap Oakland’s opening drive. He added a 45-yarder for a touchdown later in the first when he caught a pass in the secondary and outraced the defenders to the end zone, becoming the first Raiders player with two TD catches in the first quarter since Mervyn Fernandez in 1989.

He didn’t slow down from there, adding a key 39-yard catch to get the Raiders out of a hole on their game-winning drive as he ended up with the second-most receiving yards in a game in Raiders history and won the AFC Player of the Week award.

“He got back to being himself,” coach Jack Del Rio said. “I thought we did a good job of getting him incorporated, which I’d like to see continue.”

The Raiders did that in part by moving Cooper around the formation more than usual. He spent much of the game in the slot, where he lined up on six of his catches – more than double his previous high in one game from the slot.

That helped keep Cooper away from Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters and helped dictate some favorable matchups for quarterback Derek Carr to exploit. Carr ended up targeting Cooper 19 times for the game.

“It’s just helped us when we move him inside,” Carr said. “He can do certain things and then when we move him back outside, you see the structure looks different. How do they want to play him, whether they’re funneling him. What do they want to do? Just playing that game with him really helps our offense.”

Carr said the Raiders are able to do that because of Cooper’s intelligence and study habits. Carr compared Cooper’s ability to know all the different receiving positions inside and out to LeBron James’ ability to move from forward to point guard on the basketball court.

Cooper called that comparison a bit of “hyperbole,” but acknowledged the advantages he gains from moving around.

“The benefit I see is you go up against different players throughout the game,” he said. “If you’re constantly on one side, then you keep going against the same player. A smart player will learn your moves. If you’re going against all three guys you can use the same moves because the guys haven’t seen it yet.”

NOTES: The Raiders signed RB Elijah Hood to the active roster to take the place of the suspended Marshawn Lynch. … Oakland signed DL Jhaustin Thomas to the practice squad. … CB David Amerson, who left last week’s game with a foot injury, was not at practice. CB Gareon Conley remains sidelined by a shin injury. … Marshall Newhouse (foot) was back at practice after missing the game last week.

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Raiders Team Grades: Raiders Beat Chiefs In Huge Come-From-Behind Win

By Shawn Lealos

The Oakland Raiders had lost four straight games and a losing record for the first time in over a year heading into their big divisional game with the Kansas City Chiefs. On the other hand, the Chiefs were in first place in the AFC West and looked to rebound from their first loss of the season last week. Most people expected the Chiefs to come out on fire, and they did, leading 30-21 heading into the fourth quarter. However, the Raiders buckled down and ended up winning the game, 31-30, on a last-second touchdown pass to possibly turn their season around.

Here is a look at the Raiders’ team grades for their impressive come-from-behind win over the Chiefs.

Offense: A

Things didn’t start out well for the Raiders on offense. Marshawn Lynch carried the ball twice in the game before he exploded in the second quarter with actions that resulted in his ejection after Chiefs defensive back Marcus Peters had a late hit on hit on Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Raiders players went after Peters, and Lynch raced from the sidelines to get involved as well. However, it is unclear if Lynch was going to protect his quarterback or if he was going to defend Peters, a friend of Lynch’s from Oakland. Whatever the reason, Lynch chest bumped a referee and grabbed his jersey. This caused the referee to eject Lynch from the game. The veteran running back was later seen watching the game from the stands.

Despite Lynch’s antics, this was a solid “A” effort for the Raiders offense, who finally came alive. Carr had his best game of the season, throwing for 417 yards with three touchdowns, no interceptions, and no sacks. Amari Cooper, who had done nothing so far this season, caught a season-high 11 receptions for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Jared Cook also had over 100 yards in the game, and Michael Crabtree finished with three receptions and the most important touchdown of the game.
With just over two minutes left in the game, and down by six, the Raiders drove 85 yards down the field. It all ended with Carr completing a two-yard touchdown pass to Crabtree to tie up the game. Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio,  who missed a point-after-attempt last week, hit the PAT with no time left on the clock to give the Raiders the win.

Defense: B-

The Raiders defense continued to struggle against the Chiefs. The team allowed Alex Smith to throw for 342 yards and three touchdowns. Tyreek Hill eclipsed 100 yards receiving in the game and accounted for one of the touchdowns, while  rookie running back Kareem Hunt finished with 117 all-purpose yards as well. The Raiders only sacked Smith once, putting last year’s top sack leader Khalil Mack at just 4.5 sacks through the first seven games of the NFL season.

Oakland also gave up 30 points through the first three quarters. However, where the Raiders proved themselves was in the fourth quarter of the game, with the team down by nine points. They opened the third quarter with the ball and scored a field goal to put the game within six. However, the Raiders still had to stop the Chiefs – something they hadn’t done much of this game. On their first drive of the fourth quarter, the Chiefs ate up six minutes off the clock but had to punt. The Raiders went three and out, and the Chiefs got the ball back with four minutes left in the game.

Last week, the Raiders couldn’t stop the Los Angeles Chargers from running out the clock, and the Chiefs had moved the ball well all game. Despite that, they stopped Hunt for no gain on first down, stopped him after a six-yard pickup on second down, and then the only sack of the game came at just the right time to force the Chiefs to punt. That stopped the Chiefs and led to the Raiders’ game-winning drive. Oakland’s defense stepped up, and that could be a turning point this season.

Special Teams: C+

Last week, Tavecchio missed an extra point after being perfect the entire season, making the fact that the Raiders lost by one point sting even worse. This week, the wheels came off the bus. In the second quarter, Tavecchio had a 53-yard field goal blocked and then, with time running out in the first half, missed a 45-yard field goal wide left. With the Raiders losing by six at the end of the fourth quarter, some could blame Tavecchio for the loss once again. However, he redeemed himself when he hit a 26-yarder to start the fourth quarter and then hit the extra point to beat the Chiefs.

Marquette King continues to play well, only punting three times, but putting one inside the 20 and averaging 48 yards per punt. The return team had just two chances to return anything, and those returns were negligible.

Coaching: A

Watching one of your top veterans in Marshawn Lynch self-implode in the game could have doomed many teams. However, Jack Del Rio was able to keep his team focused, and Derek Carr was allowed to work his way back and win the game with a fantastic drive at the end. The Raiders still have work to do this season, but this game was a turning point, and the final defensive stand and final drive prove they have the talent and coaching skills to do so.

Up Next: The Raiders (3-4) now have 10 days off before they play the Buffalo Bills (3-2), and then follow that up seven days later on Sunday night against the Miami Dolphins (3-2). If they can follow up the momentum from this huge win, they will be back on the right side of .500 and will find themselves back in the mix once again.

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