Monday's practice in pads was an important one for second-year guard Jonathan Cooper.
Having missed all last season with a broken leg, Monday was an important step in his return. His leg is healthy, but the test of full contact, pads and bodies rolling around with line collisions would be the next step.
After practice, Cooper said he "felt okay."
"I was a little bit surprised about how easy the transition was to go from not full contact to full contact," he said. "The mistakes are the biggest thing on my mind."
That's good. He shouldn't be thinking about his leg. He should think about the mistakes.
"Ever since OTAs, I felt better since we started here and I feel like it has been a little bit more natural, a little more reactive, just letting things fall into place rather than overthinking and thinking about everything," he said. "I did feel very comfortable today."
He also said that he had "no hesitation" out there.
It wasn't a perfect practice, as he admitted that there are "just little thing I need to continue to work on."
"I'm going against a good player like Calais Campbell, so as long as it's not a mental error, then I feel like I can live with it," he explained further. "But I still need to fix it, critique it and move on."
What about the hitting?
"It felt pretty good, they (the coaches) definitely made sure we got plenty of hitting in, so I got my fill of it and we'll do it tomorrow, so I'm grateful that I felt healthy enough to do it."
In terms of the play of the offensive line, Cooper said that "it wasn't a complete roller coaster ride."
"I feel like we did a pretty good job of jelling together," he said. "As a unit we made a few mistakes here and there, but I feel like I was pleased. We had our moments where we looked pretty good and we had our moments where we looked just okay."
Considering the history of the offensive line here in town, most of us would say that okay would be an upgrade over most of the lines we have seen in over two decades.
If okay is the floor, it is something new.
For that to be the floor, though, the team needs a healthy Cooper. So far, so good.
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