Aug. 24, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA: Arizona Cardinals guard Jonathan Cooper (61) is helped off the field after breaking his leg in the third quarter against the San Diego Chargers during a preseason game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Preseason. Injuries. No bueno.
Remember when Tennessee Titans enthusiasts were debating on whether the team should draft Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper with the No. 10 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft? Some fans preferred Cooper for his athleticism and skills in pass protection. Others valued Warmack for his run-blocking talents and experience against SEC competition.
That decision was made easy when the Arizona Cardinals drafted Cooper with the No. 7 pick. After Warmack dropped to No. 10, Hall of Fame offensive linemen Mike Munchak and Bruce Matthews couldn’t pass on one of the NFL’s top offensive guard prospects in a decade. Along with Andy Levitre and Rob Turner, Warmack was added to an offensive line that has been much improved throughout the preseason.
Cooper played well during training camp. Then he broke his leg. With approximately two weeks before the Cardinals’ Week 1 opener, Cooper faces the possibility of missing the entire 2013-14 NFL season. He was expected to provide a significant upgrade for an offensive line that surrendered 58 sacks just one season ago.
The injury happened during the third quarter of a 24-7 preseason loss to the San Diego Chargers on Aug. 24. A player was blocked into Cooper’s leg while the guard was running down the field attempting to make a block.
This news affects the Titans in at least one way. On Dec. 15, the Titans will host the Cardinals in their last of four out-of-conference matchups. If Cooper is out for the season, then that affects their ability to contain Jurrell Casey, Sammie Lee Hill, Mike Martin and possibly Karl Klug. Expect a major test for the Cardinals’ offensive line depth.
Hopefully, Cooper returns to full strength and this won’t become some type of injury trend. Even with the Titans’ offensive line depth, I’d feel heartbroken if Levitre or Warmack were lost before they could play some meaningful football in two weeks.