The NFL is full of players who got second chances.
The streets are also full of NFL-caliber players who didn’t make the most of their second chances.
WR Riley Cooper – Photo by: Mark Cook/PR
The Bucs added former Eagles receiver Riley Cooper this week as a tryout player, and the former Gators standout was appreciative of the opportunity after sitting out the 2016 season.
Cooper says he plans to make the most of his second chance in the NFL.
“I just found out about the workout (last) Sunday,” Cooper said. “It’s a great opportunity and I am super excited about it. I am trying to make the best of it. Go out there and try and make some plays and run around and spread my knowledge to maybe some of the younger guys if I can be of any help. I am hometown Tampa boy so it’s good to be back.”
Cooper was cut following the 2015 season, and waited for a phone call that never came until last week.
“(I was cut) February of 2016, obviously I didn’t feel 100 percent out there today,” Cooper said. “I’m trying to get my body back into the routine of practicing and all that and it’s a new scheme and a completely new coaching staff and you are thinking a lot and trying to move. It will take a little bit to get used to.
“I’ve just been fishing and working out to be honest with you. I just bought a house in Ocala and just been fishing and working out up there.”
The Clearwater native was involved in a highly publicized confrontation at a concert in july of 2013, where he used a racial slur while addressing a security guard. The incident, which was caught on tape, caused embarrassment to Cooper and the Eagles organization who fined their receiver.
On Friday Cooper discussed his thoughts on if he felt the lack of an opportunity in the league last season could be attributed to that July evening almost four years ago.
“I am not sure, I am extremely apologetic about that,” Cooper said. “I have told everyone it was completely my fault and I am so sorry about it. That is not the type of person I am. And the people that know me, know that.”
Cooper has an ally in his former Eagles teammate, DeSean Jackson.
“DeSean is my buddy,” Cooper said. “I’ve known him for seven years now and we have been through battles together in Philly, and tough games, battling a lot of people. And you become close as friends when your back is up against the wall. Especially when you are in the same room spending hours upon hours with each other. He knows I love him.”
The six-year NFL vet was asked his impressions on Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images
“He’s a Florida State guy and I am a Gator, so I will let it slide,” Cooper said smiling. “I watched him at Florida State and played against him in the league when I was with Philly. Just yesterday we watched a lot of film on just routes and things, and I watched him – he is a heck of a player. Super talented and smart. He makes good reads. It would fun. It would be an honor to play with Jameis. He is a heck of a quarterback and I think he will be in Tampa a long time.”
Despite it not being what he wanted to do, sitting out a year had its advantages according to Cooper.
“I have been playing for a long time and my body feel good,” Cooper said. “That year off, it helped a bunch. No contact, no games, no nothing. Just kind of working out. Hot tub, cold tub, sauna it was kind of nice. I am ready to rock and roll.”
With a chance to showcase his ability to the Bucs, Cooper has just one thing in mind in order to impress.
“Just show what type of player I am,” Cooper said. “A big, physical player who can go up and get the ball. I will block, I will come down and block and do all of those things. Just be the player that I am. Don’t try and be anything special. Don’t try and be a DeSean Jackson who I played with for four years or (Mike) Evans. They are a heck of a talent. But just play my game and stick to that.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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