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Jaguars Monday: "I know I can play this game"


ARLINGTON, Texas – Pharoh Cooper isn't worried about the future these days.

In fact, the Jaguars' veteran wide receiver was only concerned about one thing as the ball approached him in the end zone early in the first quarter of the 2021 preseason finale this past Sunday.

"You can't drop this," Cooper told himself.

Cooper didn't, catching a perfect spiral from rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence – a play that featured some history in addition to giving the Jaguars an early lead en route to a 34-14 victory over the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

Cooper, a six-year veteran and a former All-Pro selection, laughed when discussing the fact that he may be remembered as the person who can take half the credit for the No. 1 overall selection's first NFL touchdown pass.

"I did not realize it until I got to the locker room," Cooper said. ""I saw the highlight on Twitter, and I realized… 'Wait… that was Trevor's first touchdown?!' Trevor will be playing this game at a high level for a while, and now we will always have that connection."

Cooper was relaxed and happy in the locker room after the Jaguars' first victory of the 2021 preseason. Talking to him, you would never know there are nerves over what is approaching: cutdown day. The Jaguars must finalize their roster by 4 p.m. Tuesday, releasing 37 players to trim to the regular-season limit of 53.

With thirteen receivers on the current 90-man roster, six receivers could be released.

"You don't really talk about it," Cooper said. "There are some conversations we have like 'What do you think they are going to do?' Honestly, you have to block that stuff out. You can only control what you can control in this business and that is making a play when your number is called."

Cooper, originally a fourth-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams, has experience in the comings and goings of NFL rosters. A 2017 All-Pro selection as a kick returner, he played with the Rams from 2016-2018 and then played two games for the Arizona Cardinals in December 2018.

He has since spent time with the Cincinnati Bengals, Cardinals and Carolina Panthers – catching five passes for 73 yards for Carolina last season.

Cooper, who has 55 career receptions for 506 yards and a touchdown with 24.3-yard average on kickoff returns and an 8.9-yard average on punt returns, has flashed at times during Jaguars 2021 Training Camp. There were multiple days where he made acrobatic touchdown catches at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex.

At the same time – and this is a good problem for the Jaguars – the Jaguars' wide receivers are currently a deep and talented position with veterans such as DJ Chark Jr., Laviska Shenault Jr. and Marvin Jones Jr. having likely solidified roster spots and Phillip Dorsett II and Jamal Agnew also seemingly securing roles.

Cooper has made plays in camp and preseason, as have a slew of other promising receivers such as second-year veteran Collin Johnson, veteran Tavon Austin, rookie Jalen Camp, first-year veteran Jeff Cotton, first-year veteran Josh Hammond, veteran Laquon Treadwell and newly acquired Devin Smith.

"I feel confident," Cooper said. "I'm a confident person regardless. We will see what happens. I know I can play this game, so either way I will be straight."

View top photos from the Jaguars Preseason debut against the Dallas Cowboys.

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