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His suspension over, linebacker Cooper is happy to be back

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Sep 30, 2008.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    Stephen Cooper is back, thankful for what he has, aware of what he gave up and finally ready to contribute to the Chargers' evolving defense.

    “Mentally, I'm definitely ready,” Cooper said Monday, his first day at Chargers Park since the end of the preseason. “I know this defense inside and out. Physically, I've been working out hard, but no matter how hard you work you're still going to get winded.”

    So while Cooper will start Sunday at Miami, his first chance to play after a four-game suspension for a failed drug test, it is not known if he will yet be the every-down player he was in 2007.

    Cooper spent the four weeks off working with a personal trainer and watching the coaches' video teammates provided him. He spent Monday getting back in meetings and getting updated on the defense.

    Before leaving for the day, he spoke of how grateful he was to be back and what he learned while sitting out four games and forfeiting more than $470,000 in salary.

    “It's made me a better person,” he said. “I think I've grown a lot – not as a football player but as an individual. By sitting there a month, getting to think about a lot of things on and off the field, you get to see how much, for myself, I really love this game. I can see why guys don't want to retire. When you're sitting on a couch watching it, you know how much you miss it and how much you want to be a part of it.”

    Cooper said he cried in the moments before the Chargers' season opener as he sat in front of his television waiting for the game to start.

    “It isn't about the money, it isn't about fame,” he said. “It's about going out there and winning I love playing the game.”

    Cooper confirmed for the first time Monday that ephedra was the banned substance for which he tested positive. And he said the ephedra was in a tainted over-the-counter supplement he used to build size and strength.

    That is contrary to what numerous sources told The San Diego Union-Tribune when Cooper's suspension was announced – that Cooper blamed an ephedra-laced recreational drug for the positive test. In fact, sources confirmed Cooper admitted the recreational drug use to the NFL as a part of his appeal process.

    Regardless, Cooper said he will not make the mistake again.

    “That little duration of four games made me sick,” he said. “The next one would be eight games – too big on the pockets and too big on my heart.”

    Cooper's return had a big impact on the Chargers' feeling of well being the day after they evened their record at 2-2 with a 28-18 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

    “It's big,” coach Norv Turner said. “We're another step closer to getting our entire group and getting them healthy and playing in sync with each other.”

    Cooper coming back is a symbol for the Chargers' growing completeness, in that it will mark the third straight week a starter has returned to the lineup. Left tackle Marcus McNeill (back) made his 2008 debut against the New York Jets and center Nick Hardwick (foot) played for the first time in Oakland. The Chargers won both games.

    “It's going to take Coop awhile,” Turner said.

    Cooper is among the smartest players on the team, adept at recognizing formations and plays. That, as much as his physicality, has been missed.

    “It's going to be huge, because he's one of those emotional leaders on the field, and he's one of the better players on the field also,” outside linebacker Shaun Phillips said. “Any time you get a guy of that caliber back, it helps us out immensely.”

    Cooper will eventually return as the Chargers' every-down linebacker on the inside, which will cut down further on Matt Wilhelm's playing time. It is likely that until Cooper is ready to play every down, Wilhelm will play some in the nickel and dime defenses while Tim Dobbins plays opposite Cooper in the base defense.

    It remains to be seen what happens when Cooper does get back his legs sufficiently to play every down. Wilhelm has improved over the past two weeks, but Dobbins brings an aggressiveness that is hard to keep off the field.

    “I want to play as much as possible, as does Tim,” said Wilhelm, who played 41 plays to Dobbins' 25 in Oakland. “It's a great problem to have as a linebacking corps. It will iron itself out.”

    There is little doubt the Chargers will be helped by the return of their leading tackler from 2007. They have not wanted to make excuses, but Cooper's absence has quietly been acknowledged as a large hole in the defense.

    Cooper was complimentary of Derek Smith, who filled in for him, as well as others in the middle. But he knew he could have made a difference.

    “When I saw a lot of the runs going on,” he said, “I felt like I could be an impactful player.”

    BY Kevin Acee
  2. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    Once Cooper gets back into game shape, Smith will be seeing very little of the field. And I will be one very happy fan to never see his sorry *** running around clueless again. :yes:
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Showmeyourbolt

    Showmeyourbolt Well-Known Member

    Sep 17, 2007

    Wow, good to see that the game means a lot to him. Hopefully he'll learn from his mistake so he can stay on the field.

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

    Jul 11, 2006
    Welcome back Coop, now get diggin.
  5. ntman68

    ntman68 Well-Known Member

    Aug 16, 2006
    And not a moment too soon. Smith is just useless out there.
  6. Boltdiehard

    Boltdiehard Well-Known Member

    Jan 5, 2006
    Thank gawd- Smith is useless back there. :censored:
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Thread_Killer

    Thread_Killer Well-Known Member

    Feb 6, 2006
    This part of the article is interesting:

    "Cooper will eventually return as the Chargers' every-down linebacker on the inside, which will cut down further on Matt Wilhelm's playing time. It is likely that until Cooper is ready to play every down, Wilhelm will play some in the nickel and dime defenses while Tim Dobbins plays opposite Cooper in the base defense."

    Acee seems pretty sure that Dobbins will move ahead of Wilhelm on the depth chart. That is great, gotta get Dobbins in there as much as possible.
  8. Aggieman

    Aggieman I bleed blue and gold

    Aug 14, 2008
    Dobbins on field - forced fumble, fumble recovery (if Ed hochuli wasn't a douche), numerous one hit tackles. Yeah, put him out there more often.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. LV Bolt Fan

    LV Bolt Fan Well-Known Member

    Aug 1, 2006
    As well as leaving Miller wide open for a Raiders TD. :yes:
  10. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

    Aug 3, 2006
    That makes two of us.

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