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Raiders without Cooper and multiple other starters in preseason opener

December 4, 2016 - Oakland, CA, U.S - NFL 2016. Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper (89) 37-yard touchdown reception agains Buffalo Bills cornerback Kevon Seymour (29) in the second half from Derek Carr. (Photo by Paul Kuroda/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)
Paul Kuroda/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

The Oakland Raiders open their 2017 preseason schedule on Saturday night against the Arizona Cardinals and they will be without a slew of their regulars.

The team announced that the following players will all not be suiting up for Week 1: wide receiver Amari Cooper, tight end Cooper Helfet, offensive tackle David Sharpe, defensive ends Fadol Brown and Jihad Ward, linebacker Ben Heeney, cornerback Gareon Conley, defensive back Keith McGill II, and safety Obi Melifonwu.

Cooper has been dealing with a left leg issue that has kept him from practicing in the early part of training camp. He is coming off a 2016 season in which he hauled in 83 receptions for a team-high 1,153 receiving yards, to go along with five touchdowns.

Both Conley and Melifonwu, the team’s top two selections in the 2017 NFL Draft this past April will have to wait for their debuts as well. Conley had a long contract negotiation that did not wrap-up until recently, and depending on whom you ask, is dealing with shin splints.

The trio of Ward, Heeney, and McGill all contributed defensively last season for Oakland, with each making at least 15 tackles. Ward finished 12th overall on the team with 30 in what was his rookie season after he was taken in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

The next chance for any of the Raiders players missing Saturday’s game will have to suit up comes during their next preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams next Saturday.

Oakland opens the regular season on Sept. 10 on the road against the Tennessee Titans.

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