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All-Pro Returner Pharoh Cooper Wants Shot At Wide Receiver

Notes: Markus Golden misses practice; practice squad move made

WR Pharoh Cooper makes a catch in his first Cardinals' practice
WR Pharoh Cooper makes a catch in his first Cardinals' practice

Pharoh Cooper went from a Super Bowl contender to a three-win team this week, which at first left him disgruntled.

The Rams released the All-Pro return specialist on Tuesday to make room for running back C.J. Anderson, and the Cardinals claimed him off waivers. But what Cooper lost in team success he may have gained in opportunity.

Cooper saw sparse playing time at wide receiver during his three seasons with the Rams. The Cardinals have serious question marks at the position, and while Cooper may not make an impact in 2018, he's under contract for 2019 and could get a look in the offseason.

"That's kind of why I was excited," Cooper said. "When I first got the news, I was mad. I was upset, like, 'Why is this happening?' But at the end of the day I got the call and I was excited to go somewhere else and showcase my skills. That's a positive. It could be a blessing in disguise. This could be a fresh start in my career."

An ankle injury has hampered Cooper this year but he was electric in the return game in 2017, averaging 27.4 yards per kickoff return and 12.5 per punt return to earn All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors. The Cardinals lost punt returner Christian Kirk to a broken foot in Week 13 and have been using cornerback Patrick Peterson in the role the past two games.

It's unknown if Cooper will play on Sunday against his former team, but was practicing returns on Thursday, he said. While the return game is the place where Cooper has made his NFL mark, he doesn't want to be pigeonholed as a one-trick pony.

"I would go in there occasionally and do some jet sweeps, run some choice routes, but (the Rams) never really tried to get me involved in the offensive game plan," Cooper said. "A lot of people when they see me, they label me as a returner. Like, 'OK, Pharoh Cooper, he's just a returner. He has no film.' I'm here to prove myself that I can play receiver. I know I can."

Cooper, who was reportedly claimed by four teams and awarded to the Cardinals based on priority, believes his elusiveness on special teams can translate to offense.

"I feel like I'm one of the best with the ball in my hands in this league," Cooper said. "Eventually, I'm going to get to showcase those skills."


Defensive end Markus Golden (ankle) did not practice for a second straight day. Tight end Ricky Seals-Jones missed another practice with food poisoning, while wide receiver J.J. Nelson (not injury-related) also sat out.

Defensive tackle Rodney Gunter (foot) and safety Budda Baker (knee) were back on the field in a limited capacity. Cornerback David Amerson (concussion), wide receiver Trent Sherfield (ankle) and wide receiver Chad Williams (hamstring) were also limited.

For the Rams, running back Todd Gurley (knee) and running back Justin Davis (shoulder) did not practice.


The Cardinals re-signed offensive lineman Justin Evans to the practice squad. Wide receiver Daniel Braverman was released from the practice squad to make room. Evans is an undrafted rookie from South Carolina State.

Images of past matchups between the Cardinals and this week's opponent, the Los Angeles Rams