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Jacksonville Jaguars Could Target Free Agent Linebacker Stephen Cooper

June 29th, 2011 at 2:39 PM
By Brendan Sonnone

The Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to sign a linebacker this offseason. Jaguars 101 has already discussed some possible targets.

One new name that is surfacing is for the Jaguars is free agent Stephen Cooper, a 32-year-old inside linebacker from San Diego.
San Diego Chargers linebacker Stephen Cooper (54) is congratulated by teammate Shaun Phillips (95) after intercepting a pass by Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning during the second quarter at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis on November 28, 2010. UPI /Mark Cowan
ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky first mentioned Cooper on Monday and asked Matt Williamson of Scout Inc. his thoughts on how the 3-4 player would fit into Jacksonville’s or Tennessee’s 4-3 scheme.
“Pretty well actually,” Williamson said. “I think he would fit a WLB, MLB or SLB well — none of them perfectly, but well enough to be a mid-level starter. He is physical enough for SLB or MLB, but also athletic enough for WLB. Not ideal for any and not a great player vs. the run, but he should be able to play on all downs and is good vs. the pass.”
Cooper might be a bit over-the-hill (age, injuries and 2008 four-game drug suspension) but he represents tremendous value to the Jaguars for three reasons.
1.) He Owns Peyton Manning- The Jaguars play Manning twice a year and Cooper has a reputation for breaking the code that Manning and his Indianapolis Colts use to confuse opponents during pre-play audibles. It’s a bit of an anomaly but Cooper’s ability to decipher what’s jargon and what isn’t is a large reason why the Chargers have had success against the Colts. That in its own is an invaluable tool for the Jaguars, who would love to knock off the perennial AFC South power.
2.) He Is Versatile- As Williamson said, Cooper can play all three linebacker positions. He likely won’t be great at any one position, but his versatility is a plus. His experience in the 3-4 system would also be a benefit to the Jaguars as they toy around with the formation.
3.) He Is Strong Against The Pass- Williamson also mentioned that Cooper is better against the pass than he is the run and can easily stay on the field during third down. The Jaguars have a suspect pass-rush, bad safeties and questionable corners, so the more stability the team can bring in during passing situations, the better. 
Tags: free agent, Jacksonville, Jacksonville Jaguars, Stephen Cooper

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