The common sentiment has been that when guard and 2013 No. 7 overall draft pick Jonathan Cooper returned from a broken leg, it would be akin to the Arizona Cardinals adding an extra top-10 pick. Cooper, a dominant and athletic lineman at North Carolina, hurt his leg last preseason and went on season-ending injured reserve.
The scenario that didn't get brought up as often was, what if Cooper doesn't return to form? About 10 months after suffering the injury, the reports are a little more pessimistic than you'd anticipate.
"Coop's still got a ways to go," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said, according to ESPN.com. "His recovery is not total yet and it's obvious. He's not the athlete that he was last year at this time. I wouldn't expect him to be. He still has plenty of time to get there."
Cooper also acknowledged he's not quite there yet.
"I think I have progressed quite a bit but not quite game ready," Cooper told ESPN.com. "I've come out here and I've done everything they've asked me to do rehab wise and lifting wise and on the field to the best of my ability. But my performance isn't quite where it needs to be for Game 1."
There is still about a month before training camp and more than two months before the season starts, so he has plenty of time to get to 100 percent. Perhaps he and free-agent acquisition Jared Veldheer will give the Cardinals, coming off a 10-6 season, a huge upgrade to the offensive line after all. Yet, there also has to be concern that an injury that has lingered this long might set him back a bit in his second season as well.
The Cardinals will be hoping that their prized draft pick from next year will show up to camp feeling great, and Cooper can then start to take advantage of his great potential and put his rookie injury in the past.
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