ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Three years ago Marcus Cooper briefly found himself in limbo, a football player without a team, and a fortuitous turn of events brought him to Kansas City where he found a home with the Chiefs.
Cooper enters his fourth year with the team as the jack of all trades in the secondary, with the ability to play anywhere at anytime. It’s a role Cooper relishes.
“These coaches they have a good knack for the talent that we have as a whole unit and they find ways to put us in the right positions,” Cooper said. “If they ask me to go somewhere, I believe in the system hard and believe what they tell me and I go there and try to perform.”
San Francisco selected the Rutgers cornerback in the seventh round of the 2013 draft and signed him to a four-year contract. The team placed Cooper on waivers during the final round of cuts, likely hoping to keep him on their practice squad.
Just 24 hours later the famous “Second Draft” brought him to Kansas City. He was among seven players the Chiefs claimed on waivers before week one using their first priority in the waiver order by virtue of finishing with the worst record in the league in 2012.
An injury to Brandon Flowers week three allowed Cooper to get on the field quickly, and he made his first career start against the New York Giants seven days later. He finished his rookie campaign with 41 tackles and three interceptions while earning the team’s Mack Lee Hill Award for outstanding rookie.
Cooper saw decreased playing time the next two season, logging just nine games played and one start in 2015. During the team’s offseason program this year, Cooper tested playing safety. During camp he frequently plays in nickle and dime situations at both corner and safety.
“It’s a learning curve,” Cooper said about adding safety to his resume. “I like to learn, so I look at it as a challenge every day and I come out and just try to accomplish whatever task I’ve been given.”
Defensive backs coach Emmitt Thomas said Cooper has become the team’s most all-purpose secondary defender.
“He’s our juggernaut,” Thomas aid. “He can play a little corner, he can play a little nickel, he can play safety and also plays special teams. He came in his rookie year and had a great year for us turning the ball over. He’s probably our next best turnover guy back there except for Peters.”
Thomas said the Chiefs value Cooper for his versatility.
“We’re looking for him to come in and contribute and be a spot player where we need him,” Thomas said.
The Chiefs currently have 18 defensive backs on the roster, and likely will keep about about 10 for opening day. It’s a tough battle for roster spots, particularly with so many young players in camp.
“We’ve got a great group of guys all around, starting from the free agents to the older guys to the draft picks,” Cooper said. “These guys are very book smart, they coming in, they are hungry, they want to learn, they want to play. I take my hat off to those guys. As long as they keep here and keep progressing, they’re going to have some great careers.”
Cooper still remembers the day in 2013 when he became a Kansas City Chief.
“I’ll always be in debt for the Chiefs for coming to grab me,” Cooper said. “Hopefully I can continue to come out do big things for them.”
Running back Jamaal Charles continues to increase his workload after the team activated him Tuesday. Charles took part in stretching and offense installation work before returning to the training facility.
Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin missed practice with what a team spokesperson termed a groin injury. Running back Charcandrick West (elbow) and quarterback Tyler Bray (neck) each missed practice for the third-straight day following injuries sustained in the preseason game against Seattle. Dezman Moses (glute) and Josh Mauga (groin) also missed practice.