Cooper has strong showing at Browns minicamp
CLEVELAND – The kid from Oklahoma State looked good Tuesday during the first day of Browns’ minicamp.
Not quarterback Brandon Weeden – although he had a productive day as well. It was Weeden’s college teammate in Stillwater, receiver Josh Cooper, that stood out during pass drills.
Working with the second team offense, Cooper was the favorite target of quarterback Jason Campbell. Cooper hauled in several passes, showing consistent hands and the ability to find open spots in coverage.
For Cooper, life as a second-year receiver is far different from being a new kid in camp as a rookie free agent last year.
“It’s a big difference,” said Cooper, who caught eight passes for 106 yards in limited playing time in 2012. “I came in with a whole new outlook. I’m a lot more focused and more prepared.
“Coming in as a rookie you really don’t know what to expect. Just getting through that first year was tough. Now things are going a lot smoother and you know what to expect.”
The best thing working in Cooper’s favor is his friendship and familiarity with Weeden’s playing style. The two worked out at different locations early in the offseason, but the plan is get together for some pre-training camp practice time.
“I don’t get too many reps with him right now,” Cooper said. “When we go back we’ll definitely be studying and working together.”
No one on the team – players or management personnel – knows Weeden better than Cooper. As Weeden prepares for his second season as a starter, Cooper is confident fans will see a better player than the one that posted a 72.6 passer rating in 2012.
“I think he’s going to bounce back,” Cooper said. “This is a great offense for him. It’s an easier offense for him to learn.”
Cooper was pleased to learn that the offense being installed by coach Rob Chudzinski and coordinator Norv Turner includes extensive use of the shotgun formation. Weeden lined up exclusively in the shotgun at Oklahoma State, which made the transition to a primarily drop-back system last season a difficult chore,
“Him coming straight into that and more than anyone in the NFL had to be tough,” Cooper said. “With this offense he gets to back out a little bit and he’ll be able to see a little better.”
The switch from the west-coast offense deployed last season by former coach Pat Shurmur to the offense favored by Chudzinski will be more receiver friendly. The dink-and-dunk timing routes won’t be as prevalent as Turner will try to stretch the secondary with a more vertical concept.
Cooper isn’t necessarily built to extend the top of the secondary, but he can benefit by finding more room to work underneath. As always, having a strong-armed quarterback like Weeden helps put pressure on a secondary to honor the deep ball.
“It’s one of those offenses when you get the concept, you’ve got it down,” Cooper said. “It’s those first few weeks that are tough; moving around all over the place. Once you get a feel for it and you know what to do, it comes easy.”
The receiving corps was bolstered in the offseason with the additions of Davone Bess and Davey Nelson. Bess was acquired from Miami in a trade during the draft, while Nelson was signed during free agency.
“Having Davone there is good,” Cooper said. “I’m trying to learn off that guy. He’s been in the league a long time. I’m trying to take as much in from him and the older guys and work on certain things out here.”