Riley Cooper rejoins Eagles after leave of absence

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Riley Cooper rejoins Eagles after leave of absence

August 6, 2013, 10:45 am
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Riley Cooper, seen here practing at the Linc on July 28, rejoined the Eagles Tuesday morning after a five-day absence. (AP)

Wide receiver Riley Cooper rejoined the Eagles Tuesday morning, four days after he was excused to receive sensitivity training following the emergence of a video showing him using a racial slur during a concert.

Cooper practiced with the Eagles on Thursday, a day after a video became public showing him using a racial slur during a drunken tirade directed at an African-American security guard during a Kenny Chesney concert at the Linc in June.

He was excused by the Eagles on Friday morning and missed practice on Friday, Sunday and Monday to receive counseling as part of disciplinary action agreed upon by the Eagles and NFL officials. Cooper was also fined.

Cooper apologized Wednesday both in an interview after practice and in a team meeting. He’s scheduled to meet with the media again after practice on Thursday at the NovaCare Complex.

Head coach Chip Kelly has said he’s concerned that Cooper’s use of a racial slur could divide the locker room. Several teammates, notably Michael Vick and Jason Avant, quickly came to Cooper’s defense, but others, including LeSean McCoy, said that Cooper’s behavior would affect their relationship with Cooper.

“I definitely think it will be different,” McCoy said last Thursday. “I’m thinking like, I think I know him very well and then you do something like that, when you don’t think no cameras are around, you don’t think nobody’s around, everything is in closed doors, you show who you really are. I just think I know him a little better than I thought I did.”

McCoy did say that he forgave Cooper and had no problem being teammates and playing hard alongside the fourth-year receiver.

Vick had mentioned a specific plan for the players to welcome Cooper back when the time came but didn’t go into details.

“We’ve already begun to put the plan in place to help him come back full form and become one of the guys again,” Vick said last Friday.

Cooper, 25, has played in 40 games -- starting 10 -- since the Eagles drafted him in the fifth round out of Florida in 2010. He has 46 career receptions for 679 yards and five touchdowns.

With Jeremy Maclin out for the season with a torn ACL, Cooper is projected as a starting receiver opposite two-time Pro Bowl pick DeSean Jackson.

The Eagles on Tuesday are scheduled to hold the first of three joint practices with the Patriots. The sessions are closed to fans, other than a small group of randomly selected season ticket holders.

Although Kelly expressed concern about his locker room in the wake of Cooper’s leave, the head coach also said that releasing the wideout was never considered.

“There has never been any question of cutting Riley,” Kelly said last Friday.  “Riley was in full agreement that he needed to get some assistance in this situation. Took us about 24 to 36 hours to kind of put a plan in place.”

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