Kingsbury said Monday Cooper’s release was “one of the more emotional (cuts) I had.”
“He made a bunch of plays in camp, and I think he knew he was a great fit for our system,” Kingsbury added. “It was tough both ways, but we had the opportunity to bring him back and he’s done nothing but make plays since we brought him back.”
The Bengals claimed Cooper, although he was cut a couple of weeks into the regular season. Meanwhile, the signing of Crabtree turned out to be a bust, and when he was released – and Christian Kirk hurt his ankle – the Cards were able to re-sign Cooper.
Cooper had never gotten a real chance to play receiver with the Rams. But he was needed there with the Cardinals, and his plays – like the fake punt catch, like the snag between two defenders in San Francisco – have underscored that he is more than just a flashy return man.
“They see Pharoh Cooper, they think, ‘That’s a return guy, he doesn’t play offense,’ ” Cooper said. “That’s frustrating. But when I catch a pass, or when on the fake punt I have to come back to make the play, for me as a receiver, that’s just pitch and catch for me. That’s doing what I do.”
Cooper smiles as he says it. Those doubting he could be effective as a pass catcher aren’t going to drag him down. And he certainly isn’t going to let his circuitous route back to the Cardinals become a dark memory.
“Larry messes with me all the time about it,” Cooper said. “Crabtree was here, yada, yada, yada. It was cool. It is what it is.
“It felt like I was injured for a couple of weeks and came back, honestly. It felt like I had never left.”