Amari Cooper went down after suffering a dangerous hit to the knee in the Dallas Cowboys' Thanksgiving Day loss to the Buffalo Bills but may have avoided what looked at first to be a significant injury.
Cooper was hit hard after catching a pass in the fourth quarter, going airborne and landing hard on the turf. The wide receiver looked to be in pain but was able to walk to the sidelines under his own power. The hit looked scary initially, with many speculating that he may have hyperextended his knee on the initial impact. He was able to return to the field a few plays later, however.
Cooper had been one of the more effective members of the Cowboys offense on a day where the Buffalo Bills defense otherwise dominated. He had eight catches for 85 yards at the time he was hurt, despite lining up against Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White for the majority of the game. Last week, White held Denver Broncos receiver Courtland Sutton to a season-low one catch for 27 yards.
Cooper would not make another catch in the game and Buffalo went on to win, 26-15.
While there is no word yet on whether Cooper may have suffered what could be a lasting injury, former NFL team doctor David Chao said it appears that the Cowboys receiver avoided the worst. Chao, who served as a doctor for the Los Angeles Chargers and now offers analysis of injuries on Twitter, wrote that while the hit looked bad, it was likely that Cooper suffered only a bruise.
"Mid-Thanksgiving dinner analysis with left knee (distal quad) contusion. Spectacular flip but hoping for no long term damage," he tweeted. "Foot was not planted. Likely to see him stretching and on bike in attempt to continue."
It was just minutes after Chao's tweet that Cooper did return to the field. The doctor added that he would expect to see the wideout staying loose on the sidelines, but Dallas didn't get many more opportunities. The Cowboys were able to score another touchdown with 4:01 remaining and converted a two-point conversion to bring the score to 26-15, but the Bills recovered an onside kick and ran out the clock.
It was a costly loss for the Cowboys, who fell to 6-6 and hold a tenuous lead in the NFC East but could be even more devastating if Cooper's injury could keep him out for any time. The 25-year-old has been a key part of the team's offense, catching 53 passes for 725 yards and six touchdowns in nine games since the Cowboys landed him via trade last year. He helped the team go 7-2 after the bye week last season, leading Dallas to a division title and a win over the Seattle Seahawks in the wild card round. He will likely be needed down the stretch as the Cowboys look to hold off the Philadelphia Eagles and maintain the division lead.As Jane Slater of the NFL Network reported on Twitter after the game, Cooper was scheduled to undergo an X-ray on Friday to determine the extent of the injury.