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Could Amari Cooper, Elijah Moore become next premier pair of wide receivers?

Amari Cooper was 5 years old when The Greatest Show on Turf exploded onto the NFL scene in 1999. He was interested in playing football but not the NFL, especially a St. Louis Rams offense far away from his home in Miami.

It wasn’t until four or five years later that Cooper became familiar with Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, the prolific duo on the receiving end of all those Kurt Warner passes. Cooper’s older brother occasionally grew bored trying to beat the computer in “Madden” and let him join in the video game.

“When I first started knowing about professional football, that was the first tandem that I really knew about,” Cooper, the four-time Pro Bowl receiver, told The Chronicle-Telegram during training camp. “My brother would always play with the Rams or the Titans, so that’s how I got to know all the players. That was always a great tandem that I really looked up to, and once I started learning more about the game, I started being able to dissect their games and they were a great tandem.”

The history lesson is relevant because Cooper referenced Bruce and Holt when discussing his new partnership with versatile wideout Elijah Moore. The Browns are trying to do as much as possible to help quarterback Deshaun Watson succeed, including trading for Cooper in 2022 then Moore this offseason.


Cooper has made the Bruce-Holt reference before — he was paired with Michael Crabtree with the Raiders and Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb with the Cowboys — but sees a twist with Moore.

“I’m the older guy now,” said Cooper, who’s 29, six years older than Moore. “It reminds me of when Crabtree was the older guy and I was the younger guy, and I’m just looking to complement what he does on the field and trying to make that tandem as exciting as possible.”

Bruce is a Hall of Famer and Holt a seven-time Pro Bowler. Moore was flattered with his inclusion.

“You can’t do nothing but get excited when the guy who’s been in the league has high praises as far as that,” Moore said.


Cooper is an avid reader and experienced chess player, so his commitment to film study fits. As he matured as a player in high school and then at the University of Alabama, he watched a variety of receivers to learn their nuances, including the Rams pair from his youth.

“Torry, he was a deep threat,” Cooper said. “They both were good route runners. They complemented each other well.”

With Cooper it always goes back to route running. He named his new shoe brand Route Runners after his nickname.

Moore might have been the most impressive player during training camp, with coach Kevin Stefanski moving him around the formation and getting him the ball in a variety of ways. Moore has no trouble winning on his own, consistently getting open against the cornerbacks.

“Well, first of all, he has the talent to be a good route runner,” Cooper said. “So the God-given quickness and IQ to be able to know when a route is going to work and how to break off a DB based off of his leverage.

“But other than that, I think through a lot of study coming up. He talks about how he watched me, Odell (Beckham Jr.), guys like that who were good route runners and added it to his game. Similar to how I just explained what I did growing up.”

At 6-foot-1, 211 pounds, Cooper is 3 inches taller and 31 pounds heavier than Moore. Cooper uses power, precision, deception and speed in his routes and can run the entire tree effectively. Moore wins with burst, shiftiness and intricate routes.

The styles allow them to compare and contrast.

“We always talk about a lot of the stuff that we do the same, a lot of stuff that we do different,” Cooper said. “When we break it down, a lot of times it’s just style, preference, God-given ability. It’s nuances. To the untrained eye you would think it’s the same, but we have a lot of differences.”

Cooper was quick with an example of how they can use that to their advantage. They ran the short post differently during the offseason program — both had success — so Cooper decided to try it like Moore and told Moore to run it like Cooper.

“It’s just a preference thing, but you have to have the footwork and the discipline to know how to do them either way,” Cooper said.


The Bruce-Holt comparison is special to Cooper and he wasn’t being cavalier using it with Moore. He sees the potential for greatness.

“I’m uber excited because I’ve been in a situation where I was just a guy and, man, that kind of gets frustrating because teams double you (snaps fingers) like that, and important games, too, like the playoffs,” Cooper said. “We all aspire to make it to the playoffs and hopefully that big game. I’ve been in a playoff game where I scored first drive and then I got double-teamed the rest of the game, it’s just no fun. It is more fun when everybody is eating and the defense doesn’t know what to do.”

The personnel department and coaching staff liked Moore when he was coming out of the University of Mississippi in 2021. The Browns took cornerback Greg Newsome II at No. 26, then Moore went No. 34 to the Jets before the Browns picked again.

They remained interested and tried to trade for him before the deadline last season after he became frustrated with his lack of opportunities in New York. The Jets refused but changed course in March after revamping the receiving corps.

General manager Andrew Berry was ready to pounce, giving up the No. 42 pick in the second round for Moore and No. 74 — a drop of only 32 spots. The Browns considered it a bargain and a way to transform the offense.

“Going back to what Elijah did in college and just his ability to make plays, you guys have seen he’s a really good route runner, his hands are exceptional,” assistant general manager/vice president of player personnel Glenn Cook said. “So whenever you have a talented player you want to give him the football and it takes time and he worked his way in throughout the spring and we didn’t rush it and now you guys are starting to see how Coach could potentially use him and just the whole corps throughout the season.”

He’s expected to be a difference-maker.

“He’s a big impact,” Watson said. “He can do it all. And he goes full speed. He never complains. He just tries to be perfect and whatever he can do to be productive for this offense and this team and for himself.”

Moore played well as a rookie, catching 43 passes for 538 yards and five touchdowns in 11 games. In 16 games last year, he slipped to 37 receptions for 446 yards and a touchdown.

The Browns believe a new environment, better quarterback and bigger role will unlock Moore’s talent.

“What I like about his game the most is that he’s small but he doesn’t play small,” Cooper said. “We’ve seen him go up and make catches downfield. He prides himself on trying to be great. He prides himself on trying to be a complete player. And I respect everybody like that.”


So much of the focus in the offseason and preseason has been on Moore, but Cooper shouldn’t be overlooked. He remains the No. 1 receiver, is coming off a strong season, is healthy after core muscle surgery in February, has developed the relationship with Watson and believes he hasn’t played his best ball.

“I’m still looking to have a complete season, to just try to stay as healthy as possible,” said Cooper, who caught 78 passes for 1,160 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns last year, his first in Cleveland.

He’s reminded of his three years at Alabama. He had 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns as a freshman, dropped to 736 and four as a sophomore and finished with 1,727 and 16 as a junior on the way to finishing third in voting for the Heisman Trophy.

“I finally had that year where it all came together,” he said. “I’m still looking to do that in the league, to be more consistent and just to have that year and to continue having that year.”

Cooper has six 1,000-yard seasons since being the No. 4 pick of the Raiders in 2015. With No. 7, he’d become the first wideout in franchise history to hit the milestone in back-to-back seasons.

“As I’ve learned, it’s about timing, it’s about opportunity, it takes a little luck, it takes being in the right place at the right time. Everything,” he said of having his dream season. “So that’s where patience comes in. It’s like the old saying, when opportunity meets preparation. You got to keep preparing, keep preparing, keep preparing, and then it gets boring sometimes because the opportunity feels like it’s not going to come. But when it finally comes, if you haven’t been preparing, you’re going to let it pass you by.”

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.


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