TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona rookie guard Jonathan Cooper rolled into the Cardinals’ locker room on a one-legged scooter with a look of eagerness and veiled frustration.
He began rehab on his broken left fibula Monday, the first step toward returning to football next season. He suffered the injury in a preseason game a little more than six weeks ago. On his first day, Cooper worked on the upper body bike to get his blood flowing and begin rebuilding his cardio.
Doctors removed the cast on his left leg Wednesday, which gave Cooper hope that he’d be able to start walking again, but doctors quickly told him that he’s at least a few weeks away from putting any weight on his leg. And that’s when the veiled frustration set in.
His scooter is the best way for Cooper to get around. He has a backpack hanging on the front to carry his belongings. He flies around on just one push off. But the novelty of it wore off quickly.
“It’s miserable now,” Cooper said. “My knee hurts. Everybody’s like, ‘Oh man, that’s awesome.’ It’s like yeah, for the first day.”
Cooper, who was drafted with the seventh overall pick in April’s draft, stayed in Arizona and joins his teammates in all their meetings. But just because he’s injured, doesn’t mean he’s excused from the rookie treatment.
It actually hasn’t stopped.
“They’ve embraced me,” Cooper said. “They still talk junk to me and treat me like I’m a normal guy. It’s been fine.”
All the support, all the teasing, all the rookie antics have helped, but in the end they can’t make up for Cooper not playing.
“It’s been tough,” Cooper said. “(You) come in and you want to leave your mark and I’m not able to play my rookie year but it’s OK. Now I’ve kinda accepted my role, just be around the guys and get as much film in as I can.”