The Oakland Raiders have lost backup safety and special teams standout Jarrod Cooper for the balance of the season, after the six-year veteran tore the anterior cruciate ligament of his right knee in Sunday's victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Cooper, 29, will be placed on injured reserve and undergo surgery at an undetermined time, and his roster spot will be filled later in the week. His future with the Raiders is uncertain, since Cooper was working on just a one-year contract, and will be eligible for unrestricted free agency next spring.
The Raiders re-signed Cooper on Oct. 12, after having released him July 25 following his four-game suspension by league officials for a violation of the NFL's steroid policy. He then played in six games, as an extra defensive back on passing downs and also on special teams, and recorded six tackles.
When the Raiders released Cooper, it was felt by some that the move might end the career of the former Kansas State standout, who is regarded as one of the NFL's best special teams players, but whose tenure in the league has been marked by a series of off-field problems.
But the Raiders obviously felt Cooper would upgrade their special teams coverage units and contribute in nickel and dime coverage packages. And he nicely filled both roles when the club brought him back on a one-year contract at a minimum salary of $595,000, prorated over the balance of the season.
Cooper served as Oakland's special teams captain in 2006 and he is a very popular player among his teammates.
The suspension earlier this year was the second four-game sanction of Cooper's career. In 2003, while with the Carolina Panthers, he was suspended four games and docked six game checks after a second incident in which he was charged with driving while impaired. The Panthers released Cooper in the spring of 2004 after he was accused of providing false information to a police officer.
A fifth-round pick in the 2001 draft, Cooper has appeared in 87 games. He has 131 tackles, three passes defensed, two forced fumbles, two recoveries, and 1½ sacks on defense. On special teams, Cooper has 84 tackles.
Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.