ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Which development should matter more to the Oakland Raiders -- Amari Cooper showing a certain physicality on his 8-yard touchdown catch-and-bowl-over-the-defender, or his inability to come up with the ball on three straight passes to him from the 2-yard line?
They are of equal importance in that Oakland will take the first, thank you very much, while using the second as a teaching moment heading into Sunday's home opener against the New York Jets.
"I'm always going to go to him," Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said of Cooper. "Obviously, we didn't hit on all of them that we wanted to hit on. Credit that to being the first game because we were just a little bit off, on my end, on his end, whoever it was. It doesn't matter.
"The confidence will always be there... I'll never shy away, good or bad."
It was on the Raiders' first offensive possession last weekend and facing a first and goal from the Tennessee Titans' 8-yard line when Carr hit Cooper, lined up wide right, on a quick slant-type pass at about the 5-yard line. Titans rookie cornerback Adoree' Jackson quickly wrapped Cooper and spun him to the ground.
Except... Cooper's knee never hit the grass, his body spinning on top of Jackson before Cooper extended the football out with his left hand to push himself up as safety Kevin Byard arrived.
"It was a real fun play," Cooper said. "Just kind of let the guys push me in. It was real fun."
And using the ball to regain balance on his first red zone touchdown since his rookie season of 2015?
"It was unintentional," Cooper said, "but it was all based off of instincts."
Cooper also added muscle and weight this offseason.
The next time the Raiders had the ball, though, they had to settle for a Giorgio Tavecchio field goal when Carr's three straight throws to Cooper from the 2-yard line went incomplete. Cooper simply dropped the first, Jackson pulled out the second and Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo tipped the third.
The Raiders still pulled out the 26-16 victory.
What can the Jets expect, then? They should see more of Carr targeting Cooper, who is one of three players in NFL history with 70-plus catches, 1,000-plus receiving yards and five-plus TD catches in each of his first three seasons.
Especially if they put only one defensive back on him, as Cooper said he noticed the Jets doing on film.
"When someone's playing you man-to-man coverage, they're basically saying that guy's better than you," Cooper said. "So that's why a lot of receivers feed off of that."
Does Cooper feed off that?
"Yeah," he said, without a hint of a smile, "I do."