Sunday, October 13, 2013
A happier homecoming for Eagles' Cooper
By Phil Sheridan
TAMPA, Fla. -- The last time Riley Cooper saw his family, it was not a happy occasion. The Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver went home to Clearwater, Fla., to clear his head after an Internet video surfaced that showed him using a racial slur at a concert earlier this summer.
On Saturday, Cooper’s family visited him at the team hotel. On Sunday, Cooper had a present for his mother: The football he caught for a 47-yard touchdown in a 31-20 win over the team he grew up rooting for.
“I saw a bunch of people in the stands that I knew,” Cooper said. “It meant a lot to come back here. I grew up going to these games, watching Derrick Brooks and Mike Alstott, all those guys. It’s cool to come back here and actually play a couple good games.”
Cooper caught four passes for a career-high 120 yards. He came into the game with just 96 yards on eight catches in five games. Last week, he saw Jeff Maehl get some of his playing time.
“Some guys would get upset for not getting the ball,” Cooper said, “but I’m not a very selfish person. I just want to win games. Everybody’s time is going to come and today I got a few looks and a couple plays.”
“He’s the X factor,” running back LeSean McCoy said. “Nobody pays any attention to Riley and the thing is, the guys in the room know how good he really is. I think he surprised a lot of guys in the league today, but he didn’t surprise us.”
Cooper took a short pass from Nick Foles and turned it into a 44-yard gain early in the fourth quarter. That set up a quick-strike touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson, an important score after the Bucs got to within 21-20.
Coach Chip Kelly has answered questions about Cooper’s lack of production for the past few weeks. There were different questions Sunday.
“I think he’s an outstanding receiver,” Kelly said. “He wants the ball thrown to him and catches it. I’m really happy for Riley."