“The only thing that made us want to come back is what we talk about every day – winning,” Cooper said. “Because now we’re at the point where we can turn the tide and win games and everything. And that’s really all.
Cooper is one of three Jackets who joined the team in 2016 and remain on the roster, along with defensive tackle Djimon Brooks and tight end Joseph Macrina.
When the preseason kicked off on August 6, Cooper played center from the start, but with injuries along the line he was tried right and left, and now has a spot on the left.
A player who has shown his tenacity, agility and punch, Cooper has won the approval of offensive line coach Brent Key.
“He’s blocking,” Key said. “It’s the nature of what we do.”
Long a supporter of Cooper, Key went on to praise his maturity and leadership before returning to his game.
“He helps the younger ones, he takes care of his body, he gets in shape to play – all the things we’ve come to expect from Kenny the last few years,” Key said. “And, finally, touch wood, he stays healthy there, he is able to work.” He replaced the two guard points, the central point. I move it to a lot of places but have been very happy especially the last couple of days since we got full towels.
Cooper said his improvement in health is significant.
“It’s just mentally, I just flipped the switch I needed, and it helped me,” he said. “It’s also motivating from everyone on the offensive line helping me to go, giving me encouragement.”
While Cooper was previously a center – a position where Minihan seems entrenched – playing guard suits him. The position is less mentally demanding than the center, where Minihan is required to make calls and adjust the line.
“Right now I like to play guard because I’m just playing and being able to do what I’m supposed to do, especially since I’m in a little bit of a rut,” Cooper said. “It really helped a lot to be able to relax and just play. “