Second-year wide receiver Pharoh Cooper has been all over the field lately.
Throughout training camp at UC Irvine, and now in practices at the team facility at Cal Lutheran, Cooper has appeared to distinguish himself as a do-everything kind of wideout.
While many players may be called "wide receiver," not all of them play exactly the same position within the group. In head coach Sean McVay's offense — and most across the league, for that matter — the three wide receivers are termed 'X,' 'Z,' and 'F.'
That kind of terminology is nothing new, and is used in nearly all levels of football. But in McVay's offense, it's important for young receivers to learn all three spots for positional flexibility.
"We want to be able to move guys around and the way that we try to operate is, when you teach things as far as our plays, we teach concepts," McVay said on Thursday. "It's not like, 'Alright, this is the only way we'll do it, so this is the only route you have to know on this given play.' Guys have to know where to line up in any specific spot and our formations allow us to try to move guys around.
"The more that guys are able to absorb, the more you can kind of have them do those versatile things and run different types of routes," McVay continued. "So it is very important for guys to have an above-the-neck approach that gives them a chance to know what's the full concept, as opposed to just individual routes and what the Z, the F, or the X receiver does on any given play."
Cooper is a player who embodies that philosophy for Los Angeles, having taken snaps at all three different spots from the offseason program to now. The wide receiver said he's very comfortable with each position, being able to jump in whenever and wherever he's needed.
"With the offense that coach has put in, there's a lot of concepts so everybody has to know what to do," Cooper said Thursday. "One time, I could line up on the outside. And the inside, I have to know what to do if I'm the 'Z,' the 'X,' or the 'F.' So he stresses that a lot about knowing the offense inside and out."
"Like today, we were in '12' personnel — I think Sammy was getting taped up or something — so I just jumped in at 'X' and ran the play when Sammy couldn't do it," Cooper added. "So, I'm very comfortable. I can go out there at X, F, Z — whatever it is, I'm good with the playbook."
Cooper said McVay and wide receivers coach Eric Yarber have done well to teach the new system, and distribute reps in practice. That's part of why the South Carolina product has been able to pick things up so quickly. But he's also taken advantage of extra reps when given the chance.
"Really at first, I was just playing Z. Then I was at F, then some injuries went down and I was actually starting at the X. So [I learned] just by that. And, like I said, the concepts are kind of easy," Cooper said. "So everybody knows that to do. One formation, the F and the X can switch, and you can still know what to do. So just getting experience at all the levels, starting at each one of them individually, helps a lot."