Cowboys need Amari Cooper healthy to be contenders

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper is one of a trio of star players on offense looking for a new contract, but the team should also be concerned about a possible injury hindering his play on the field in 2019.

There’s no doubt that Amari Cooper was a game-changing acquisition for the Dallas Cowboys in 2018, even if some fans wondered if a first-round pick was too steep of a price for Stephen Jones to pay. Cooper immediately lived up to his billing as a No. 1 receiver in the Cowboys offense and was instrumental in Dallas’s turnaround, as the team snuck into the playoffs and won their Wild Card fixture against the Seattle Seahawks.

Expectations are even higher for the Cowboys in 2019 with a full season of Cooper catching passes from Dak Prescott, as well as a potential second-year leap from likely No. 2 wide receiver Michael Gallup.

However, the Cowboys need to monitor Cooper’s health closely. Their best playmaker hasn’t been practicing, and the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the former Alabama standout is dealing with a strained heel.

The good news is that Cooper has downplayed the significance of the injury, via USA Today’s Jori Epstein. Cooper stated that he can still cut “really hard” on his foot and noted that he’s played with several foot injuries before.

While Cooper is still probably the Cowboys best weapon at less than 100-percent, Dallas need him to be at his best in order to fulfill their potential as contenders in the NFC. It’s a difficult conference with the Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, and Los Angeles Rams all loaded up for potential Super Bowl runs. With their defense and running game, the Cowboys have serious darkhorse potential, but they need Cooper as that final piece.

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There’s no need for the Cowboys to panic about Cooper, especially since the man himself is tough as nails and has played through foot pains several times in his career. But some may wonder if Cooper would have been even more effective early in his career with the Oakland Raiders if he didn’t have to deal with a foot injury.

After averaging 80 receiving yards per game with six touchdowns in just nine appearances for the Cowboys last season, Cooper set the bar high in his introductory campaign for the proud franchise. He’ll want to set the bar even higher in a full season with Prescott, and the 25-year-old is heading into the prime of his career. A lot of the Cowboys success hinges on his work as their unquestioned star receiver, and, hopefully, this heel injury is as much of a non-issue as Cooper says it is.

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