After his first contract was signed, after Bruce Arians made him run a conditioning test in front of the entire team, after being told not to make any mistakes, Jonathan Cooper finally took the practice field.
Awaiting the seventh pick in this year’s NFL Draft was all 6-foot-8-inches and 300-pounds of Calais Campbell. Cooper handled the defensive end on his first snap in pads, holding his own for the rest of practice while impressing Campbell.
“I think he did very well,” Campbell said. “His first day in after we’ve been here a couple days is always going to be hard for you, but
Cooper finally reported to training camp Monday, a day after his contract was agreed upon and seven days after his fellow rookies reported for camp.
The University of North Carolina product had been working out six days a week in his home state, preparing for his first camp. But waiting for his contract to be ironed out took its toll on Cooper.
“Anticipation -- it kills me,” he said. “I just start questioning would I be able to get right back in? Am I conditioning myself enough while I’m here at home? What do the rest of the guys think about me? All that kind of stuff. That was really mentally taxing.”
After passing his physical Monday morning, Cooper took the field for the Cardinals’ morning walkthrough. The first thing Arians told his first-round pick to do was run his conditioning test in front of the whole team.
Arians said Cooper “breezed” through two 300-yard sprints, but Cooper alluded to it looking easier than it was.
“I was pleased at how well I got through it,” Cooper said. “I was exhausted after the first one.
“Some people say it’s better because you get to set your own pace. Some people say it’s worse because all eyes are on you. It was definitely doable and I did it. Not to say I wasn’t worried about it but I was a little bit. But I completed it and it’s behind me and I’m excited about that.”
Now that he’s finally in Arizona, Cooper will be catching up on the first few days of camp with his roommate, fellow rookie offensive lineman
On the field, Cooper is looking nearly as polished.
Campbell said he’s under control for a rookie and plays “wise beyond his years.”
“That dude is a heck of a run blocker,” Campbell said. “Going against him I really have to bring my big boy pads. I can’t slouch against him because he’ll make me look bad.”
As his first practice wore on, Cooper started to slow down but he knows it’s just the first day and there are plenty more to come.
“It was tough as I thought it would be,” Cooper said. “I was pleased early on. I started fairly strong and I tailed off at the end, making a few errors. I was pleased. I look to get better as we continue to go forward.”