One of the Philadelphia Eagles unsung heroes this season has been wide receiver Riley Cooper. Ironically, the former baseball player is now hitting homeruns in the NFL. Catching homerun bombs, that is. Cooper currently ranks third in the league in yards per catch with an average of 19.3. And Eagles’ head coach Chip Kelly says it was his time on the baseball diamond that’s help him excel on the football field.
“One of the things that Riley is, and got a great background in baseball, he does a great job of tracking the ball while it’s in the air. I think a lot of it is he has some background in being an outfielder. That catch he made on the post route, he just did a great job at tracking the ball and he’s very, very good at tracking deep balls and that’s a skill that he has, when you watch him every day in practice, you can see him, he can adjust to the thrown ball, and it’s not an easy thing. Sometimes it’s got to be a great pass by the quarterback for it to be a successful play. I think with Riley, you can miss him a little bit but because of his ability to adjust to the throwing ball in the air, it’s really one of his strengths and it’s what I think really separates him from other people.”
Cooper is having the best season of his four year career. So far this season, he’s recorded 37 receptions for 714 for seven touchdowns. Although Cooper still struggles with consistency, getting those 37 catches on 70 targets, his homerun threat is his biggest contribution to the team. He’s recent rise in production has helped fill the void left by Eagles wideout Jeremy Maclin, who suffered a season-ending injury (torn ACL) in late July.