Riley Cooper Injury: How Does It Affect the Philadelphia Eagles?
Regardless of how much time he misses with a broken collarbone—early estimates are that it'll be a six-week rehab—the loss of projected No. 4 wide receiver Riley Cooper will not single-handedly turn Dream 2.0 into another nightmare in Philadelphia.
But teams die by 1,000 paper cuts as often as they fall victim to one fell swoop. And so injuries like these place added pressure on everyone else within a unit. The Eagles don't have a whole lot of proven talent beyond Cooper, and this is a division in which a dearth of reliable targets can be deadly.
The 24-year-old Cooper became a quasi-significant part of the Eagles' offense in his second season. While he doesn't have the ingredients to become a regular starter, there were many who believed he could take another step forward in his all-important third season.
That could still happen. It's even possible Cooper plays a full 16-game campaign and keeps improving. But this is a setback.
Feeling the most pressure, undoubtedly, is rookie sixth-round pick Marvin McNutt, who was expected to compete with Cooper anyway this summer and possesses a fairly similar skill set.
Yes, there are experienced free agents such as Plaxico Burress on the market, but there's a reason those guys are still available. And it's important to remember that we're talking about depth concerns. If Philadelphia was forced to replace DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin, a gamble on a guy like Burress would be worthwhile. In this case, such a move would make very little sense.
Who will be Philly's No. 4 receiver most often in 2012?
Let's see what McNutt brings to the table. Let's see how quickly Cooper recuperates. And let's see if anyone else can emerge. Other candidates with a chance to steal some reps this preseason include Chad Hall, Damaris Johnson, Ronald Johnson and Mardy Gilyard—a group that has a combined total of 20 NFL catches but possesses more talent than most teams have that deep on the receiver depth chart.
So there's little reason for concern here if you're the Eagles. The broader theme might be that, no matter how good a team looks, unpredictability is the only predictable trend every year at this time. We're already beginning to see how useless preseason predictions are and why things change so much in August.
More will come, and the best player to get hurt this summer won't be the Eagles' No. 4 wide receiver.
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