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Browns vs. Bills: Rookie Xavier Cooper shows he's ahead of the curve with more big plays

Xavier Cooper's teammates weren't satisfied.

As reporters circled the rookie defensive lineman after Thursday's preseason loss to Buffalo, linebacker Christian Kirksey snuck up from behind Cooper, draped an arm around him and passed along a message that was relayed last week, when Cooper collected his first career sack.

"He needs to come up with a better sack dance," Kirksey said.

The topic's going to keep coming up if Cooper continues to do what he's done through the Browns' first two preseason games.

Cooper burst through the middle of the line of scrimmage twice against the Bills to collect his second and third sacks of his NFL career. The second was as easy as he'll get at this level, as Cooper wasn't touched on his third-quarter sack of E.J. Manuel.

Cooper promptly turned toward his teammates, crossed his arms like an "X" over his chest and started shaking.

"(Defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil) always says, 'Don't try to force anything, the play is going to come to you,'" Cooper said. "I'm just playing my position. I'm just landing in the right spot at the right time.

"I saw it and I took it. The guard had to slant down and I ran straight through. Those plays don't come through that often, so I have to make sure that I make it."

Cooper was a relatively unheralded player coming out of Washington State, but the Browns were enamored with his quick first step. O'Neil called it one of the best among draftable players in the 2015 class, and it played a big part in the Browns trading up to nab him near the end of the third round.

It turns out Cooper is a quick learner, too, as Browns coach Mike Pettine put him in the same class as first-round pick Danny Shelton, who has been a first-team player since the second week of training camp.

"I don't know if Danny is going to fill the stat sheet necessarily because of the situations that we use him in, but from a grading out standpoint, I'd say both those guys are ahead of where a typical rookie would be," Pettine said. "We're very encouraged by their progress so far."

Cooper isn't anointing himself just yet. He lumps himself with "all the rookies, all the young guys" who are fighting for a roster spot and waiting for an opportunity to make a play and justify why they're on the team.

Cooper's done it three times in two games while playing consistent football at his position with the second-team defense. The plays he's made as an interior lineman were lacking on Cleveland's defense last season, and, so far, he's provided the spark the team was hoping it'd get from him.

"Coop's been killing it," said rookie Dylan Wynn, a former Oregon State defensive lineman who played against Cooper. "He's a monster. He was just like that at Washington State ... He's a special player. He definitely got slept on in the draft and that's why he went third round. You can't talk about how good of a player he is; he just gets it done."

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