Pharoh Cooper

Rams To Activate WR Pharoh Cooper

The Rams are expected to activate wide receiver/returner Pharoh Cooper from injured reserve before Monday night’s game against the Chiefs, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Cooper Kupp, who went down with a torn ACL in Week 11, has formally been placed on injured reserve. 

Cooper has appeared in just one game this season, as the ankle injury he suffered in Los Angeles’ season opener landed him on IR. Now that he’s missed eight weeks, Cooper is eligible to return and began practicing last week. That opened up a three-week window during which the Rams had to decide whether to activate Cooper, or keep him on injured reserve for the remainder of the year.

A fourth-round pick out of South Carolina in 2016, Cooper earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2017 as a return man. The 23 year-old Cooper handled 66 combined kick and punt returns, and led the NFL in yards per kickoff return (27.4). He will immediately take back both of those roles from Blake Countess and Jojo Natson, who have been handling kicks and punts, respectively.

Cooper hasn’t been much of an offensive force through two-plus years in the NFL. He played roughly 400 offensive snaps from 2016-17 and managed only 25 total receptions during that time. Cooper could conceivably see snaps at receiver now that Kupp is done for the season, but the Rams typically stick with the same three wideouts (Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and — now — Josh Reynolds) in their “11” personnel package.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams’ Pharoh Cooper To Return From IR

Aqib Talib‘s return will be the higher-profile Rams IR decision, but on Tuesday, they used the first of their IR-return slots on a specialist.

Return man Pharoh Cooper will come off Los Angeles’ IR and return to practice. An ankle injury sustained in Week 1 shelved Cooper. Having gone on IR before Week 2, Cooper could return to action Monday if the Rams choose. They have three weeks to activate the All-Pro returner, or he’ll stay on IR the rest of the way.

This will lock the Rams into Cooper and Talib coming back from IR. Talib is expected to be ready to return from his ankle malady after L.A.’s Week 12 bye. The Rams’ IR, though, isn’t filled with return candidates who would rival a Cooper comeback.

Cooper earned All-Pro acclaim for his return work last season. Former UDFA Jojo Natson‘s been the Rams’ return man during Cooper’s absence.

Rams Place WR Pharoh Cooper On IR

Sean McVay said All-Pro return man Pharoh Cooper would be out for “some time” after a Week 1 injury, and that absence will extend into at least Novemeber.

The Rams are placing Cooper on IR, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). He won’t be able to return to game action for eight weeks. An ankle injury’s resulted in this transaction, and wideout JoJo Natson will take Cooper’s place on Los Angeles’ 53-man roster, per Rapoport (via Twitter).

Considering how valuable Cooper was to the Rams’ resurgence last season, he would make sense as an IR-return candidate. However, the star-studded team’s first-half health situation will help determine if Cooper comes back this season. He could return by Week 10.

Natson now stands as a return option, perhaps the frontrunner, for the Rams, per Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com. Given his 5-foot-7, 153-pound stature, it doesn’t seem he’s much of a threat to contribute on offense. Natson came to camp with the Rams this summer and worked as a returner throughout camp but was not retained on L.A.’s active roster or practice squad at the preseason’s conclusion.

An Akron product, Natson served as the Jets’ kick returner and punt returner in seven games last season. Returning a kickoff and punt for a touchdown, Cooper glided to a Pro Bowl berth.

West Rumors: Prosise, Cards, Rams, Raiders

After a promising flash as a rookie, C.J. Prosise has not contributed much to the Seahawks‘ cause. He’s picked up 17 touches since December 2016 and is behind Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis on the Seattle running back depth chart. However, the team is discussing a position change for the third-year back. Pete Carroll said (via Pro Football Talk) his coaching staff is examining a possible Prosise switch to wide receiver, citing his background at the position in college. Prosise was a wideout at Notre Dame before being switched to the backfield. He caught 29 passes for 516 yards in 2014. The Seahawks are down Doug Baldwin for perhaps multiple weeks, and they have just four healthy wide receivers.

Here’s the latest from the West divisions, shifting to a running back who is also quite adept at the receiver role.

  • David Johnson is now the NFL’s second-highest-paid running back, holding a substantial lead over the No. 3 player in this hierarchy, and ranks close to the top in terms of fully guaranteed money, too. Johnson’s three-year, $39MM Cardinals extension will come with $24.682MM fully guaranteed at signing, Joel Corry of CBS Sports tweets. Adding in the amount guaranteed for injury increases the deal’s guarantees to $31MM, per Corry, who adds offset language is included in this contract. Johnson’s $24MM-plus full guarantee leads all running backs on veteran contracts, surpassing Todd Gurley‘s $21.9MM in guarantees.
  • Martavis Bryant is indeed back with the Raiders, as Jon Gruden suggested he could be. An illness and general inconsistency during camp led to Bryant being a preseason cut, Gruden said (via Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic, on Twitter). Gruden said the perpetual suspension risk, who may or may not be facing another ban, is more focused and may suit up for the team on Sunday in Denver.
  • In addition to the Raiders’ interest in signing top free agent Johnathan Hankins, Gruden said they’re also interested in adding Clinton McDonald, per Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Hankins is visiting the Raiders on Wednesday. The Broncos released McDonald after the preseason slate. If signed, McDonald would add yet another 30-something to Gruden’s free agency haul. He’s 31.
  • The Raiders are in need of help at defensive tackle because of a Justin Ellis injury. The fifth-year veteran defensive tackle strained ligaments in his foot, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. He’s week-to-week, prompting Oakland to pursue outside help.
  • Adam Jones signed with the Broncos late in the preseason, appearing to represent an upgrade at punt returner and No. 4 cornerback. However, the 35-year-old defender appears to have usurped Tramaine Brock for the nickel job, Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com notes. Brock didn’t fare poorly in the preseason and graded as an upper-echelon corner during his last season of full-time work, with the 2016 49ers, but Jones has more experience in Vance Joseph‘s defense from their time together in Cincinnati. If he’s been demoted, it would mark a second straight season the 30-year-old defender’s resided out of a nickel picture. The Vikings carried Brock as a depth piece in 2017.
  • The Rams are going to need a new return man. Pharoh Cooper suffered an ankle injury and will be out for “some time,” Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com notes. Backup return man Michael Thomas is out for a few weeks, Sean McVay said, to prompt Los Angeles to seek alternative options. Cooper served as the Rams’ kick- and punt-return man last season, soaring to All-Pro honors.

Injury Notes: Lewis, Pruitt, Cooper, Marshall

The Steelers are still considering free agent cornerback Keenan Lewis, but it will take him at least a month to recover from hip and groin injuries, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). That news jibes with at least one report earlier this month that indicated Lewis would need as much as six weeks to heal from his ailments. However, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently reported that the Steelers were troubled by the medicals on Lewis’ hip when he visited the team recently.

Here’s more on the injury front:

  • Although tight end MyCole Pruitt looked to have suffered a serious injury during yesterday’s preseason games, the second-year Viking will only miss two-to-four weeks with a sprained MCL, tweets Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. As such, Pruitt will likely miss at least the season opener, but he’ll return as Minnesota’s No. 2 tight end at some point early in the campaign.
  • Rams rookie wide receiver Pharoh Cooper has a shoulder injury and will miss “a few weeks,” head coach Jeff Fisher yesterday told reporters, including Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com. At minimum, Cooper will probably miss the season opener. Cooper, a fourth-round pick, had apparently been the favorite for the LA’s third receiver role (and could still be when he gets back to action).
  • The Redskins will also lose a rookie for a short period of time, as seventh-round running back Keith Marshall will likely be out for three weeks, according to coach Jay Gruden (Twitter link via Mike Jones of the Washington Post). However, Gruden added that Marshall could be placed on injured reserve, which would likely allow Washington to stash Marshall until 2017.
  • The Buccaneers are expected to place WR/KR Donteea Dye on the waived/injured list with a hamstring issue, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Dye will need roughly a month to recover, but there’s a possibility could bring Dye back into the fold, tweets Laine (though it’s unclear if that means the club would bring him back off IR, or re-sign him after releasing him with an injury settlement).

Rams Sign Entire Draft Class

The Rams announced that they have signed their entire 2016 draft class. It was long expected that the Rams would all sign their rookies on the same day in June, as the team has done in recent years. Rams Helmet (Featured)

This morning, word leaked out that the Rams and No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff had agreed to terms on his contract. Of course, thanks to the rookie slotting in the latest CBA, contract negotiations are, by and large, pretty painless. The only exception to that is in the third round where there is a little more wiggle room between players and teams, but the Rams did not have any third-round picks in this year’s draft thanks to the massive haul of picks they sent to the Titans in order to select Goff.

After Goff, the Rams’ next highest draft pick was Western Kentucky tight end Tyler Higbee. In the weeks leading up to the draft, Higbee made headlines for all the wrong reasons when he was charged with second-degree assault. One scout expressed concern about Higbee shortly after he was selected by L.A.:

“He is a major partier,” said the anonymous scout. “That was his big problem, despite the arrests. He has a lot of maturing to do, and I’m not sure he can mature fast enough.”

The 23-year-old was considered a potential third-round talent, but the charges predictably impacted his stock. Higbee caught 48 passes for 563 yards and eight touchdowns last season but missed five games due to a knee injury. When asked about the injury at his pro day, the WKU product told reporters he was 75-80% recovered.

Here is the complete rundown of the Rams’ entire 2016 draft class:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Rumors: Steelers, Patriots, Easley, Texans

The Steelers have used the majority of their pre-draft visits within the last week, and announced several more today. As Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com writes, the following players were in Pittsburgh today to meet with the club: Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones, West Virginia safety Karl Joseph, South Carolina wide receiver Pharoh Cooper, Virginia Tech linebacker Dadi Nicolas, Colorado cornerback Ken Crawley, Maryland safety Sean Davis, and Boston College safety Justin Simmons.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams is visiting with the Patriots at Gillette Stadium today, sources tell Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald (on Twitter). The Pats previously met with the tailback at the combine. Williams, 22, missed the 2015 regular season after undergoing foot surgery. In 2014, he racked up 1,190 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground despite splitting carries.
  • Patriots defensive lineman Dominique Easley has hired agents Drew Rosenhaus and Michael Katz of Rosenhaus Sports for representation, as Rand Getlin of NFL.com tweets. Easley, 23, has been plagued by injuries since being selected by the Patriots in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft. In December of last season, he was placed on IR with a leg injury. In his injury-shortened sophomore year, Easley totaled 15 tackles and two sacks as a part-time player.
  • Texas Tech’s Jakeem Grant is visiting the Texans, as Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle writes. The wide receiver/kick returner has also worked out for the Dolphins, Colts, and Jets. Grant returned four kicks for touchdowns over the course of his collegiate career with the Red Raiders and caught 90 passes for 1,268 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.