Wake-Up Call: Riley Cooper, 3 Months Later

Eagles WR Riley Cooper in endzone against ChargersReactions still vary from player-to-player when  Riley Cooper is brought up.

Nick Foles, as an example. stood in the corridor following his press conference and sang the praises of the receiver during a phone interview with Peter King.

“I love Riley to death,” said Foles. “He had that [incident]. He has really grown as a person. I’ve always thought the world of him.”

Meanwhile, in the back corner of the Eagles’ locker room, Cary Williams struck a different tone.

“I mean he’s playing OK, I guess,” said Williams of Cooper, who had just put together a five-catch, 139-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Raiders. Williams followed with a compliment. “Whenever we’ve needed him he’s come through…That’s one thing he’s been doing, he’s been working and when his name is called he’s been able to make plays whenever the ball is thrown to him.”

Williams, like many of his teammates, expressed conflicting emotions after a video of Cooper using a racial slur surfaced in late July. Right before the start of the season, he and Cooper had a heated exchange on the practice field.

Have they been able to come to a good spot personally? As teammates?

“We’re teammates. No question,” said Williams. “But I mean…We’re teammates, and we have a great working relationship.”

The body language further suggested that Williams and Cooper weren’t going out for ice cream after the game. Nor do they need to. Personal feelings aside, the team has picked up and moved on from an issue that had the ability to be pretty poisonous.

On the field, Cooper is showing some signs of life. After getting shut out against the Giants back on October 6, the 26-year old has posted 17 catches for 360 yards (21 YPC) and four touchdowns over the last four outings. He has had two 100-yard receiving games in his career. Both came in that stretch, and both with Foles as the quarterback.

“That’s the Coop I know,” said Chip Kelly of Cooper’s performance Sunday. “Some people wanted to throw him under the bus after the first couple of games, he hadn’t caught as many balls as people wanted him to, but he’s a big, physical target. The first touchdown was a great example of it — he kind of muscled up and kind of got physical and got by the guy. That’s the one thing that Coop can do is when he’s covered one-on-one against the smaller defensive backs…I was really happy with his production.”

That was a 17-yard TD in back corner of the end zone. Cooper was able to work past D.J. Hayden to get free.  Foles and Cooper followed that up with a 63-yard pitch-and-catch three minutes later to up the Eagles’ lead to 21-3, and later connected for a five-yard TD to cap the Eagles’ scoring late in the third.

The offense has been in desperate need of a second receiver option outside of DeSean Jackson to emerge. It makes life easier on everybody, from the quarterback to Jackson to the head coach. And, as LeSean McCoy pointed out after the game, things will begin loosening up for him if the passing attack continues to shine.

That’s what his teammates are concerned with at the moment — the on-field matters. Any other issues have taken a back seat.

“As far as I’m concerned we have a good working relationship and that’s really what counts, right?” said Williams. “Outside of that is outside of that. It is what it is.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

Kelly says he expected Foles to bounce back.

A look at what the monster day for Foles means.

Sheil provides observations from the Eagles’ 49-20 win over the Raiders.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Reuben Frank takes a closer look at Foles’ outing.

Foles completed 79 percent of his passes, becoming the first QB in NFL history to throw seven touchdowns and also complete at least 70 percent of his passes.

The previous highest completion percentage by a quarterback throwing seven touchdowns in a game was 69.2 percent by Tittle.

Foles also threw for a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating, making him only the second Eagle to ever do it. Donovan McNabb went 21 for 26 for 381 yards, four touchdowns and a perfect rating against the Lions in 2007.

Rich Hoffman wonders if this is the real Foles.

…[T]his was very much about him, and how he would rebound after the Dallas loss and the concussion, and everyone knew it. Center Jason Kelce talked about how Foles was more vocal and involved in everything this week, and about “a little bit different look in his eye, going into the game…It’s more just his mannerisms and everything. He was obviously upset with the way he played before, in the Dallas game.”

Running back LeSean McCoy said the only comparable game he had seen was Michael Vick’s game in Washington in 2010, when he threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more. McCoy said, “(Foles) just seemed so focused this game, like he had something to prove today.”

COMING UP

Kelly addresses the media at 1 p.m.

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