A change in scenery could be a good thing for new Patriots OL Jonathan Cooper. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)
FOXBORO — Being the No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, it hasn’t been the greatest start to a career for offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper.
The 26-year-old couldn’t seem to fit in with the Cardinals as he started just 11 games over the last three seasons. He battled toe and wrist injuries last season with the Cardinals moving him around on the interior line.
Overall, Cooper has played in just 24 games in the NFL so he is still relatively new to the league, despite being 26 years old and a former top-10 pick.
Being traded along with a second-round pick to the Patriots this offseason for Chandler Jones, this year could be viewed as a fresh start with a new team, but Cooper didn’t want to go down that road.
“I honestly try and just be in the present, honestly,” Cooper said. “Try not to look back and really focus, continue to work and be better than I was before.”
The University of North Carolina product was asked if his best football is still ahead of him?
“I guess,” Cooper said. “I’ll keep working and that will remain to be seen.”
Coming from a team in Arizona coached by Bruce Arians, to now playing in New England for Bill Belichick, it certainly is a contrast of styles. Cooper tried to explain what it’s like playing for the Patriots.
“I mean, it’s definitely — I don’t know, you can’t really put the way you come in here and you feel this is something else, but you come in and work hard every day and know things are going to be all right,” he said.
With the return of Dante Scarnecchia as offensive line coach, there are many who feel he could be very helpful in turning not only Cooper’s career around, but the Patriots’ offensive line as a whole, which struggled down the stretch last season.
Cooper is grateful to get to work with a coach like Scarnecchia.
“I feel like he’s just like any other great coach,” Cooper said. “He can coach you hard, he’s going to lay on you when the time is right and he is definitely going to teach you some great techniques and work you hard.”
As it stands now, Cooper isn’t guaranteed a starting job, but with second-year players Tre’ Jackson and Shaq Mason out of minicamp coming off of offseason surgeries, he’s getting more reps to move himself, which is all he can ask for at this point on the the calendar.