Jonathan Cooper half-stood in the locker room Monday, his bright red cast on his left leg propped up on the mini-scooter the rookie guard has been using to get around instead of crutches.
He smiles the best he can, with the reality of missing the season driven home when he watched the Cardinals play in St. Louis. Cooper can’t even rehab much right now, because he is too early in the process. So he waits.
“I just want to get healthy and make sure I don’t lose the team and that I am with them as
The Cardinals briefly considered putting Cooper on the injured reserve-able to return list, but it was quickly discounted. Coach Bruce Arians had said one of the reasons he wanted to have Cooper come back this season was so he could avoid being a “rookie” for a second straight season.
Cooper, however, is not concerned about that being an issue.
“For me, the being-the-rookie aspect was confidence,” Cooper said. “The preseason kind of gave me that confidence. I see what it’s like now. I see I am able to compete. Now it’s a matter of having the knowledge down. I can do that (in meetings). The coaches have been telling me, ‘Your brain isn’t hurt.’ I can study film, I can be around the guys, I can listen, I can be a fly on the wall when the vets are talking.
“I can build the knowledge base and now I have the confidence that I can play this game.”
The most games Cooper had ever missed in his football career is 2½, after suffering a high-ankle sprain. This is a different experience, but Cooper is trying to stay engaged.
“I just try to watch (the game on TV), get excited and have fun and support my guys,” Cooper said.
Cooper should be fine once the leg – in which screws and a plate were used to set the bone – heals. Then he just needs to get back into football shape. These days, he spends most of his time at the facility either moving around on his scooter or elevating his leg to help the natural healing process.
“I am honestly ready to just start walking,” Cooper said. “It’s such a process just doing little things.”