ARLINGTON, Texas – Amari Cooper laughed pretty hard when he was asked if he felt better this week.
"Oh yeah, yeah – for sure, I felt a lot better," he said. "I felt like I could do my job."
That last bit, about being able to do the job, is something Cooper repeated earlier this week. He didn't feel that way last Sunday at MetLife Stadium, when his injured quad forced him to the sideline after just three snaps.
Fast forward to this Sunday, watching him bully the Eagles' secondary for five catches and 106 yards, you wouldn't know he was ever hurt at all.
"He's a bigtime player, he's as tough as they come," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "He battled back from this thing and just played at a really high level."
This seemed unlikely to happen as recently as Thursday afternoon. After watching most of that loss to the Jets from the sideline, Cooper didn't practice on Wednesday or Thursday. It wasn't until Friday that he was able to practice in limited fashion.
Make no mistake, though: even in the midst of another impressive performance, Cooper was battling.
"It's crazy, because you really want the ball obviously, as an offensive player who makes plays with the ball in his hands," he said. "But when you get the ball and you actually get tackled, that's when you feel your injuries – because you go to the ground and make hard plants and stuff like that."
Cooper did all the stuff he usually does, working his way open at all levels of the field. But it was his work on the boundaries that shined against a depleted Eagles secondary.
Midway through the second quarter, Dak Prescott found him for 44 yards on a slant-and-go that found him running all alone past two confused defenders. And his diving, 28-yard catch in the fourth quarter might be the best effort of his Cowboys career.
"Dak just threw it out there and trusted my skill set, I guess," he said.
As repayment for his efforts, Cooper now gets two weeks to rest and recover. That's got to sound awfully enticing for a guy who has battled through various problems since the start of training camp.
But even while he does that, it doesn't sound like Cooper is satisfied. Downing the Eagles was a step in the right direction, but he said the Cowboys have more work to do.
"I don't know if we proved much, you know," he said. "We obviously won a very important game, but we still have to have that backs to the wall mentality. Because that's really where we're still at."