I think everybody was a little surprised to hear Riley Cooper was already returning to practice on Tuesday, at least people outside the Philadelphia Eagles organization. Cooper was excused from training camp last Friday so he could “seek counseling” after video surfaced of the wide receiver using a racial slur during an alcohol-fueled tirade.
The team never put a timetable on Cooper’s return, but it felt like he would be away for awhile, at least until after the first preseason game however arbitrary that may seem. All told the fourth-year veteran was gone for four days, missing just three practices. I mean, how much emotional help can one receive in such a short amount of time?
Perhaps Cooper’s counseling, sensitivity training, or what have you was blown out of proportion in the first place. The 25 year old wasn’t necessarily trying to uncover the deep, underlying causes behind his outburst as it turns out, nor did he even require the advice of professionals exclusively. While he wasn’t willing to delve too deep in the details, it turns out Cooper may have simply needed time to reflect and talk it out, possibly leaning heavily on family members during the process.
"I just went out and sought help. I talked to my family and sought help. I'm going to keep that between me and the others that are helping out. It went well."
"We just talked about the situation and how big this is. I realize that and I realize how many people I've hurt, how many families I've hurt, how many kids I've hurt. That's what we talked about, the severity of it and I completely realize that and I take full responsibility for it."
I asked Chip Kelly about what type of specialists Cooper might have been visiting or speaking to during his absence, but the head coach responded by telling me it was not his place to divulge that information. One area where the embattled receiver admitted he had not sought further intervention however was for alcohol abuse.
"We didn't really touch on that, but I'm not going to get into all that we talked about. I'm just going to try to move forward and hopefully people judge me from here on out."
So what exactly did Riley Cooper do during his excused absence? Well, that’s still not entirely clear. There is no doubt some type of counseling was involved, but mostly it sounds like it was a period for reflection. In the meantime, his absence presented the other 88 players on the Birds' roster an opportunity to get back to normal for a few days and focus on football. Sure enough, while Cooper’s return was a top story on Tuesday, there was plenty more to discuss with the Patriots in town for joint practices.
Coop, by the way, was one of the standouts in practice, hauling in multiple long touchdown passes against the New England defense from both Mike Vick and Nick Foles.