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After only four days removed since the Eagles granted his excused absence from team activities, wide receiver Riley Cooper returned to the Novacare Complex to participate in Eagles practice on Tuesday afternoon. Reports also surfaced from ESPN's Sall Palantonio that the controversal receiver will play in the preseason opener when the Eagles host the New England Patriots on Friday night. When asked, Chip Kelly said at this time he hasn't thought of it but if he continues to practice that Cooper would play but Tuesday for Cooper was just about getting back out there with his teammates.
"It's great to be back doing what I love to do, play football," Cooper said. "I realize being in the NFL you have responsibility to behave on and off the field. I realize that. I really appreciate the support from my teammates."
Cooper didn't elaborate but the constant question is how will this affect the Eagles locker room. He said he spoke with all his teammates one on one and aplogized to each individual. He feels he has the support of his teammates and that they know he was sincere with what he had to say as he and his teammates look to move on from this situation.
"As a locker room we are just moving foward from this," Safety Patrick Chung said." Riley(Cooper) is my teammate. Yes he did something that he regrets as we all have. I'm here for him. We have to look to the bigger picture at hand."
Just by the body language of Cooper you could tell he was sincere and is truly sorry with his actions. And we saw a determined Cooper to earn the respect of his teammates and the fans by playing on that football field with probably the best practice we have seen from Cooper in his tenure as an Eagle. He made back to back touchdown grabs against the Patriots first team defense. And he knows he has a long road ahead of him on and off the field.
"This is where I want to be," Cooper said. "I know I have a lot to do but im determined to show the coaches and my teammates what I can do on that football field."
When asked if it's an option moving forward without Cooper, Chip Kelly said he doesn't feel that is an option. That he talked to the locker room and he feels everyone is in good spirits with the decision to keep Riley on the roster. That now it's time to put this issue behind them and look to playing the Patriots on Friday.
Chip Kelly Pt 1-3
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie issued a statement as well:
"I want to make this clear; the words Riley Cooper used were totally unacceptable. His words may have been directed at one person but they hurt everyone. Riley has apologized to the team and community and has made a personal commitment to work hard to try and gain their trust and earn his position on the team."
The 25 year old has recorded 46 receptions 679yds and 5 TDs in 40 games played(all with Eagles) and now with WR Jeremy Maclin out for the season. Cooper was expected to take a larger role and given an opportunity to emerge as a starting receiver in this league. He has really underperformed for a guy with his size to be something special in this league but now he will get that chance.
Eagles lose WR Benn
Well there is one man Riley Cooper doesn't have to worry about now competing with him for the starting job. Like the old saying goes, everything happens in threes. Well the Eagles have lost their third player due to ACL tear.
WR Arrelious Benn will miss the 2013 season due to a torn ACL in his left knee. The 24 year old signed with the Eagles this past offseason. The 4th year veteran has produced 59 grabs for 862yds and 5 TDs in 37 games with the Tampa Bay Buccanears.
The Eagles also released WR Dave Ball... with amount of injuries and lack of depth at the receiver position, could a signing be on the horizon? Highly unlikely as Howie Roseman has expressed that the Eagles would replace WR Jeremy Maclin from within and they will allow the young up and coming talent fight it out for playing time.
Bill Belicheck Speaks To Media At Eagles Camp