Bruce Arians sees “night and day” improvements in Jonathan Cooper

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Cardinals right guard Jonathan Cooper was out taking reps with the first team offense during the first phase of OTAs this week.

Cooper’s worked his tail off in the offseason to get in better shape, and try and shake that injury bug that’s been nagging him ever since he was drafted by Arizona two years ago. It’s seemingly paying off for Cooper, because head coach Bruce Arians has seen a marked difference in the way he’s looked in the early stages of the offseason program.

“Night and day,” Arians said. “He (Cooper) did a great job re-defining his body. He’s another one that’s really in fantastic condition. His weight’s the same, but his body’s different.”

“He’s a natural athlete, so it doesn’t matter right side, left side, go watch the tape. He’s got a smile on his face a lot, that’s a good thing,” Arians said.

Cooper’s been a walking, talking MASH unit over the last couple of seasons. In his rookie year, Cooper broke his leg against the San Diego Chargers in Arizona’s next to last preseason game, which wiped out his entire season. Last season, Cooper battled through a turf toe injury and a wrist injury, and he was still able to play in 10 games and make two starts toward the end of the season.

“You can’t gut out broken bones, unless you’re Jack Youngblood, then the coach gets sued these days; back then it was cool,” Arians said. “I think he (Cooper) appreciates being healthy.”

Cooper told reporters that there’s a faction of people out there that question his heart and his desire to want to play the game of football, simply because he’s been hurt so much. Quarterback Carson Palmer was “shocked to hear that.”

“I’ve never thought it had anything to do with desire at all, that’s not what I’ve witnessed,” Palmer said. “I’ve seen a guy (Cooper) that works hard, that wants it, that is frustrated with himself if he makes mistakes. He’s been frustrated with the injuries he’s been through, but I would never label him that way. I’d just say he’s had a handful of injuries that are difficult to overcome and get past and move on.”

“I expect him to win that job not because of where he’s drafted,” Palmer said. “He’s extremely talented, he’s smart and I think he’s very well driven and wants it, and I think he just needs to stay healthy and continue to improve.”

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