The Arizona Cardinals knew Marcus Cooper could help solidify the team's defensive backfield, but even players and coaches were probably surprised by the lift Cooper gave the team in his first game with the franchise.
Cooper notched a pair of interceptions including one he returned 60 yards for a touchdown in the second half to lead the Cardinals' defense to a dominant performance in a 40-7 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Cooper gained recognition around the locker room, and on Wednesday morning, Cooper received recognition around the league as he was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance.
Aside from a pair of interceptions, Cooper also recorded seven tackles and three passes defended against a Tampa Bay squad that scored 31 points in a week one win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Cooper earned the honor despite coming off the bench in the Cardinals' victory, as rookie cornerback Brandon Williams started his second consecutive contest.
After the game, head coach Bruce Arians explained the goal for Sunday's contest was to split reps between Williams and Cooper, but after Cooper's first interception, Arians knew he had to keep the recently acquired defensive back on the field.
"I love the way Coop (Cooper) stepped in there and played," Arians said. "I thought he had a heck of a ballgame and we were splitting reps with he and Brandon (Williams), he got hot, and you don't take hot hands out."
Cooper's two interceptions put him in a tie for the league lead, and his interception return for a touchdown thrusts him into elite company as only Eric Kendricks of Minnesota and Aqib Talib of Denver have recorded pick-sixes so far this season.
Even though Cooper was a clearly superior option to Williams on Sunday, the Cardinals have yet to decide on a starter for this week's contest in Buffalo. At his Monday press conference, Arians said both Cooper and Williams are listed as starters, and Arians indicated in an XM radio interview on Tuesday that the plan is to continue to rotate the players at cornerback this week.
After a week two loss against the New York Jets, the Bills fired their offensive coordinator Greg Roman and promoted assistant head coach Anthony Lynn to offensive coordinator. Sunday will be Lynn's first game as an offensive coordinator in the NFL.