FRISCO, Texas – It's safe to say the Cowboys aren't shying away from the expectations.
Amari Cooper isn't, at any rate.
From the time the team drafted CeeDee Lamb back in April, it's been a national talking point that the Cowboys employ one of the best receiver groups in the NFL. It's an obvious conclusion, given that they already had two 1,100-yard receivers in Cooper and Michael Gallup, and then added one of the draft's best receivers to the group.
Asked about that decision on Monday afternoon, Cooper couldn't deny the obvious.
"You have to draft the best player on the board -- everybody understands that," he said. "I think he's a great receiver. And I think with me and Michael Gallup going for 1,000 yards last season, I think the expectation is to have three 1,000-yard receivers this year."
That's a lofty goal, even for an offense that finished first in the league last year. Only five teams in NFL history have had three receivers eclipse 1,000 yards in the same season. The 2008 Arizona Cardinals, who reached Super Bowl XLIII, were the last to do it with Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston all hitting the mark.
Still, if there's an offense that can pull it off, Dallas is a decent bet. After all, Lamb is joining a group that already includes Cooper and Gallup, not to mention an All-Pro running back in Ezekiel Elliott. Most importantly there's also the Pro Bowl quarterback, Dak Prescott, who is playing the season on a prove-it deal.
And to hear it from Cooper, the group has been working to get ready despite the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19.
"Me, Dak, some of the other receivers, tight ends, running backs – we've all been working together pretty consistently for months now," he said. "Working on our route running, working on the offense and everything like that. We've been getting a lot of work in, getting that timing right as if we were going to minicamp or OTAs."
Lamb has also been part of that, according to Cooper. Prior to the Cowboys reporting for the start of training camp, Cooper said he worked with the rookie and came away impressed with his skill set.
"I think he's a quick learner. He already has a good foundation, he's fundamentally sound as a route runner," Cooper said. "It's very small, nitpicky things that I help him with, that I may see – him being a rookie."
Without the benefit of those OTAs and minicamp practices, there's no telling what the Cowboys will look like in 2020. But Cooper said the offense isn't much different from 2019. If anything, it sounds simply like the terminology has changed to reflect Mike McCarthy taking over as head coach, even while the concepts look the same or similar.
"The plays haven't really changed that much, the verbiage is just a little bit different," Cooper said. "I think that has a lot to do with Coach McCarthy coming in and being used to calling certain plays, certain things. But the plays are pretty much the same or similar."
The pieces are in place, and it's an awfully intriguing puzzle. The only question now is how well the NFL can tackle COVID-19, thereby allowing the 2020 Cowboys to show their stuff. To that end, Cooper said he thinks the Cowboys' entire roster has prepared as best as possible – so when football does resume again, they can make the most of it.
"Whatever the situation is, whatever the circumstance is, I feel like we're going to be ready – I know I'm going to be ready," he said.