By Ed Benkin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Eagles have been looking to move past the Riley Cooper distraction. They will do so without Riley Cooper.
The Eagles wide receiver has been excused from team activities and will be away from the team for an indefinite period of time. Cooper will seek counseling stemming from the incident in which he was caught using a racial slur on a video posted online. The team has given no timetable for his return, but Head Coach Chip Kelly says the situation isn’t about Cooper’s presence on the field.
“This isn’t a football decision,” said Kelly. ” I guess, to me, we’ve divorced the whole football part of this. This isn’t a football issue. Riley admits Riley needed help, so Riley’s going to get help. There is not a consideration of, well, Riley needs to get help, but let’s see where our roster is. That’s never been a discussion.”
Cooper addressed his teammates before Thursday’s practice, and reaction was mixed by many of his teammates. However, Quarterback Michael Vick says the Eagles will look to make a smooth transition for Cooper when he returns.
“We’ve already begun to put the plan in place,” Vick said. “Well help him come back and be one of the guys again.”
Some Eagles may not yet be ready to welcome Cooper back. Cornerback Cary Williams says Cooper may have to apologize more than once for his actions.
“There is an elephant in the room that needs to be addressed,” said Williams. “It’s just an unfortunate situation for the team right now to go through this.”
DeSean Jackson is expected to line up with Cooper this season. Jackson talked about his relationship with his fellow wide receiver now that Cooper has issued his apology.
“What he said was what he said,” Jackson said. “As a player and as a teammate, he’s never disrespected me. He’s our teammate and we need every wide receiver we can to help us going through reps.”
The Eagles have an off-day on Saturday before resuming practice on Sunday. Monday’s practice will be at Lincoln Financial Field.