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Amari Cooper 'sets the standard' for Browns' young WRs

Cooper is embracing one of the biggest leadership roles he’s ever had as he heads into his eighth NFL season


Amari Cooper isn't used to being one of the oldest players in a wide receiver room.

Cooper, 28, is the second-oldest receiver on the Browns roster behind Jakeem Grant Sr., 29. Eight of the nine other receivers on the roster are all 24 years old or younger, highlighting the youth the Browns are hoping to turn into quality talent at the position in 2022.

What Cooper, a fourth-overall pick in 2015, is used to is being one of the best receivers on a football team. That's a title he's owned nearly every year since his high school days in Florida at Miami Northwestern. He upheld the label for three college seasons at Alabama and another seven seasons in the NFL, split between four years with the Raiders and three with the Cowboys.

Now, he's in his first season with the Browns, who acquired for a fifth-round pick and swapping of sixth-round picks in March. He's still unquestionably the best receiver on a roster, but he knows that because of his age, he'll be leaned on even more to give guidance to his young teammates.

"That's the position I'm in now," Cooper said. "These guys look at me like an old guy," Cooper said with a chuckle. "They pay a lot of attention to detail, and they know the importance of coming in every day and knowing their stuff and trying to perfect everything they do."

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Behind Cooper, the Browns will be counting on third-year veteran Donovan Peoples-Jones, second-year player Anthony Schwartz and rookie David Bell to handle chunks of the receiver load. When Cooper was at the career stage for each of those players, he was already a Pro Bowl player — he made three of them in his first four seasons.

Since then, Cooper has just continued to do nothing but produce. He earned another Pro Bowl nod in 2019 and totaled 1,000-yard seasons in three of the last four years. 

The talents have always seemed to come naturally for Cooper, who has mostly preferred to let his game speak more about his abilities than his own words. But putting on a route-running and catching show each practice still serves valuable lessons to the young players who watch him.

"He's a great, down-to-earth guy," Schwartz said. "He's a little quiet, but he gets his work done. He sets that standard, like we have to shut up and get our work done. He gives me great tips, whether it's on releases or on route-running because he's one of the best receivers in the league."

Cooper, though, is ready to use his voice a little more. He knows the young players in his room will need it for the group to rise to the goals of the Browns' pass game, which ranked 27th in the league last season. 

The Browns acquired Cooper to be a player who could lead the offense in targets each week. That's nothing new for him, but he also knows his leadership will be just as vital as his catching abilities in helping the offense take steps forward.

"A lot of leadership comes with experience and age," Cooper said. "It becomes easier and easier over time because, from what I see now, leadership is just experience. It's so easy to lead once you have that experience because everything these young guys are going through, you either went through it or saw someone else previously on the team go through it, and you saw how the outcome was."

So far, Cooper believes his fellow receivers have taken the tips well. They sense the urgency and opportunity for them to take a big step, and that feeling will only pick up when they return in late July for training camp.

As one of the older players in the room, Cooper knows they'll keep turning to him for help, and he's ready to provide it.

"They know the position they're in, as far as making the team and stuff like that," he said. "They've been doing a good job. Very efficient."

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