Riley Cooper is raising eyebrows again in Philly, and once again he has his mouth to blame. Only this time he did it on the record.
In a day-after scene that should have been anything but drama, the fifth-year wideout — notorious for the summer controversy in 2013 when Cooper was recorded saying the N-word at a Kenny Chesney concert — once again inserted his foot in his mouth.
The Eagles wide receiver was asked Monday about a sidebar angle — namely, why his number of snaps has dropped slightly over the past few weeks — after Sunday’s win vs the Tennessee Titans, a 43-24 blowout victory that seemed to have eased fans’ concerns about on-field issues one week after getting trounced by the Green Bay Packers.
Instead, Cooper raised concerns over possible dissension simmering below the surface.
"Maclin’s trying to get a contract so he’s probably not going to try and come out of the game," Cooper said of teammate Jeremy Maclin, who is enjoying a career year while on a one-year contract signed last offseason. "We want to sub as much as we can. It doesn’t matter who it is. Hopefully, Maclin gets this thing done and he’ll probably be subbing just as much."
Upon having those Philly reporters predictably bounce over to Maclin for his reaction on Tuesday, the sixth-year pro bluntly replied, "That was not a very smart thing for Coop to say."
Cooper told media later on Tuesday that he was joking, but then he followed up with more of what one Philly columnist called "bizarre comments."
“I’m supposed to sub every four or five plays, and that’s what I do,” Cooper said. “Maclin, I guess, he’s a lot better player than me, so he doesn’t have to sub.”
Was he really kidding? Local media seemed confused and unconvinced.
Could Cooper be upset about a minor decrease in playing time and production? According to Comcast Sportsnet, Cooper’s snap counts have dropped from over 90 percent to just 67 percent during the win vs. Tennessee. Cooper enjoyed a career year in 2013 under coach Chip Kelly (47 catches, 835 yards, 8 TD), signing a lucrative five-year extension in the offseason as a reward. This season, he’s actually on pace for more receptions, but also for 200 fewer yards while he’s only caught 1 TD so far in 2014.
Meanwhile, Maclin, who missed the entire 2013 season after tearing his ACL early in training camp last summer, is just 20 yards from his first career 1,000-yard season.
Kidding or not, this is all now a local mini-drama percolating during a short week of preparation, and during a critical "Dallas week" while his team needs every moment trying to gear up for its first-place collision with the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving.