His left ankle, sprained so severely two weeks prior that he did not practice until Friday’s walk-through, was not 100 percent, not when it was so obvious during the game that he was having trouble planting and cutting on it.
So why was he on the field as the lead blocker on a sweep down the left sideline, when that injured ankle got rolled up on by DeAndre Washington?
Cooper’s anguished screams, picked up by CBS’ sideline microphones, may actually say more than the Raiders.
“He tweaked his ankle again yesterday,” said Raiders coach Jack Del Rio, when asked if there was an update on Cooper, “and didn’t return after that.”
That much you already knew.
Then, about that whole running-in-traffic-on-a-gimpy-angle thing?
“It was a toss, a crack toss,” Del Rio offered. “He was involved in it.”
OK, that was the assignment for Cooper, who, again, was a game-time decision because of that gimpy ankle?
“He had an assignment to block,” Del Rio said. “It’s football. He was involved in a play.”
Who knows how long it will be now before his ankle is healed enough to be involved in more plays, what with the Raiders (6-7) hanging onto their playoff hopes by the thinnest of margins.
When Cooper went down, with about 7 minutes left in the second quarter, the Raiders offense was already in full meltdown mode and Oakland was trailing 13-0 en route to a 26-0 deficit, before losing 26-15.
Before the injury, Cooper was targeted just once by Derek Carr and did not have a catch.
So why was he playing if he was not going to be an immediate factor? One school of thought says if a player is healthy enough to dress ... you get it.
To be fair, Cooper did light up the Chiefs in the Raiders’ 31-30 victory in Oakland on Oct. 19, going off for 210 yards and two TDs on 11 catches, while being targeted 19 times. He ran a lot out of the slot that night.
“We have a lot of playmakers at the receiving position,” Cooper said at the time. “We went into this week saying we want to take more shots, more explosive plays.”
Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, the Raiders rarely, if ever, went after the slot.
It has been a bleak year for Cooper, who also suffered a concussion on a hit by Denver Broncos safety Darian Stewart. After consecutive 1,000-yard Pro Bowl seasons to start his career, Cooper has just 499 receiving yards on 42 catches (he had 72 receptions as a rookie and 83 catches last year), though he does have five TDs.
“I don’t like to sit up here and grade positions, so I’m not going to today,” Del Rio said. “I thought they competed hard and we played a lot of guys. Obviously ... we didn’t have Coop very long. We filled in and battled. We’d like to get more production there.”
Del Rio also had little to say about defensive end Mario Edwards Jr., who injured an ankle or foot on a sack by Bruce Irvin. Edwards was wearing a walking boot on his right foot as he left the Raiders locker room.
“I laid out there yesterday the injured guys, what their status was coming out of the game,” Del Rio said. “As you know, we take today and tomorrow and kind of see where we are and we’ll have a report out on Wednesday. I went through all the guys who were hurt yesterday.”