Top Veterans: No. 7 Josh Cooper

This is the fourth installment of our preseason series on the Top 10 Veteran Players for 2011. To be eligibile you have to be a veteran player that has either started or played a significant role as a backup player. The criteria to be on this list is that you play a vital position to the success of this season.

No. 7 - Josh Cooper, IR
5-11, 197, Sr.
Mustang, Okla.

With what Justin Blackmon did last season the performance of Josh Cooper at inside receiver gets kind of lost or at the least taken for granted. Quarterback Brandon Weeden doesn't take it for granted as he counts on Cooper to be his most sure-handed and dependable target.

Weeden also knows that while Cooper is likely to be in the middle of more defensive traffic than the outside receivers like Blackmon, he will still work the ball up field and get yards after the catch.

Cooper had suffered a series of injuries over the first two years of his career. It was an injury in camp that solidified his redshirt season in 2007, otherwise he might not have redshirted and might be gone. Last season he worked hard on getting stronger and more confident as a physical player that brought the contact to the defenders.

It worked as he stayed healthy and finished with 68 receptions for 736 yards and five touchdowns. We told you that you might have underestimated No. 25 and his contribution. Opposing teams know who he is and know that Weeden likes to throw to him.

Combine Cooper with some of the other emerging threats on the team and Blackmon won't have to worry about more attention than he can get away from.

Cooper is quiet and doesn't make a lot of noise talking, but he is a leader and you can see that this summer in the conditioning and metabolic workouts. The young players look up to him and the older ones respect him. The hair is longer and the build is even bigger as he is closing in on 200 pounds but he has maintained his speed.

He is also valuable on special teams, particularly punt returns although he has been good in previous seasons on kick coverage. On returns he is the best hands guy the Cowboys have. Mike Gundy and Joe DeForest love his sure hands. He also averaged 9.5 on returns as a sophomore and 9.6 yards last season.

The only bad thing about Cooper is that he is a senior this season, but he does have a "mini me" on the team this year in fellow Mustang alumni and receiver David Glidden.

Top 10 Veteran Cowboys
No. 10 Grant Garner
No. 9 Quinn Sharp
No. 8 Nigel Nicholas

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