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Amari Cooper: Foot injury 'affected my whole game'

Amari Cooper slammed into the proverbial rookie wall last December, failing to top 20 yards in three of the last four games of the season.

Battling a foot injury that nearly led the Oakland Raiders to shut him down for the season, Cooper still managed to become the first rookie in Oakland Raiders history to reach 1,000 receiving yards.

Just how serious was the injury?

In a Monday interview with KGMZ in San Francisco, Cooper said he never bothered to watch his rookie-year game tape because "I really wasn't myself."

"I think it affected everything. Me being a receiver, it affected my whole game," Cooper explained. "Talk about a foot injury, you can't release how you want to, you can't come out of your breaks how you want to. You can only get open in two ways, off of the line or out of your breaks.

"So it really affected my game, but I was mentally tough and I fought through it."

Cooper even considered skipping the Pro Bowl because he didn't think he deserved the honor.

The No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft played through a mid-November quadriceps injury and toughed out a lingering foot injury that lasted for months.

In fact, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported this week that Cooper played most of the 2015 season with a painful bout of plantar fasciitis -- "never complaining, rarely practicing, still performing."

Before the injuries flared up in the second half of the season, Cooper was on pace for 82 receptions, 1,306 yards and eight touchdowns. The first rookie since Mike Ditka in 1961 with three 100-yard performances in his first six career games, he was so dominant by Halloween that NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah was inspired to pick the Raiders' greenhorn over record-setting Odell Beckham as the young wide receiver with the highest upside.

A rare receiver with precision route running, explosiveness after the catch and downfield tracking ability on 50/50 balls, Cooper was integral to Derek Carr's early-season breakout performance. It should have come as no surprise, then, that Cooper's injuries contributed to Carr's late-season slump.

Prior to Week 12, Carr boasted a 63-percent completion rate at 7.66 yards per attempt with a 24:6 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 101.5 passer rating. Those numbers plummeted to 56 percent, 5.6 YPA, 8:7 TD-to-INT ratio and a 71.1 passer rating in the final five games.

With Cooper back to full health and poised to emerge as a weekly difference maker, the Raiders' aerial attack should return to the heights of last September and October.

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