Jonathan Cooper's rookie season ended before it even started last year.
The Arizona Cardinals' first round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft suffered a broken leg during a preseason contest last year against the San Diego Chargers. It's been a long road to recovery for the North Carolina product but he expects to be at full strength when training camp commences on July 26.
"I think I have progressed quite a bit but not quite game ready," Cooper said via 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."
No doubt. There is still work to be done before he makes his NFL regular season debut.
"Coop's still got a ways to go," Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said. "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. When you really look back, he had 15 practices and two games as a Cardinal. He is a first-round draft choice but he's far from a finished product."
That will come with time. For now Cooper is rehabbing and trying to strengthen his leg while knocking off a lot of rust. It's all part of the process of recovering from a significant injury.
"I remember when I wasn't able to walk," Cooper said. "Just being able to run around and I remember being nervous about leaning on these defensive linemen. I've been able to do it, day-by-day proving to myself that I'll be fine."
Cooper is working very hard to return to his previous form.
"Rehabbing — that's pretty much what I got on my agenda," Cooper said. "(I'll) be studying all that but just give my body a little bit of a break, otherwise just lifting and rehabbing."
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