By Ed Benkin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Riley Cooper and the Eagles decided it was time for the troubled wide receiver to return to work. He came back on a day when the New England Patriots were in town.
The Eagles and Patriots began the first of three straight practice days leading up to their preseason opener this Friday at the Linc. Cooper was back after seeking counseling in connection with uttering a racial slur that was caught on camera. Cooper said he was happy to be back on the field.
“It felt good to be out there with the guys,” said Cooper. “I was catching and running and making some plays, then they were coming up to me and supporting me. There were high fives and chest bumping. It just felt good to be back out there.”
Eagles Coach Chip Kelly said he talked to Cooper about his return and both felt the time was right for him to get back onto the field. Cooper performed well as he worked with the top offensive unit, but Kelly said today wasn’t about Cooper’s performance.
“My concern wasn’t how he practiced,” Kelly said. “It’s just him with the team itself and getting the chance to make sure he got to talk to every single guy so that they understand how we felt, and understand that he’s truly sorry for what he did. We’ll look at the film and correct all those other things, but that wasn’t my concern.”
Cooper’s teammates appeared more ready to welcome him back than when the incident was first revealed last week. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans was credited by Kelly for his leadership role in the incident, and Ryans says the team went about the process of moving forward in the right way.
“I feel like we just handled the situation like men,” said Ryans. “You deal with it, You talk about it, and you put it behind you.”
Meanwhile, Tuesday marked the first of three straight workout days with the New England Patriots. New England Coach Bill Belichick has known Kelly for quite some time and is excited to have his team work with the Eagles during the week.
“I have so much respect for Chip and what he’s done,” Belichick said. “We’ve been friends for a while and I know he does a great job with this football team and the program that he’s run in Oregon and what he’s doing here. I think it will be a good experience for our team to get to see some different people.”
Wide Receiver Arrelious Benn suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during practice. The team also released Wide Receiver David Ball.