Marc Colombo made a nice career for himself as an offensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys, but it was not always that way.
Colombo was selected by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the 2002 NFL draft, but the football gods saw no reason to allow the former Boston College lineman to experience success on the shores of Lake Michigan. As a rookie Marc suffered a season-ending dislocated patella and some femoral nerve damage during the first half of the season. He spent the entire 2003 season and the first half of the 2004 campaign sidelined with the effects of his injury.
Chicago finally decided that Colombo was a first-round bust due to his injury and after the opening week of the 2005 season, Marc Colombo was released.
Enter the Dallas Cowboys.
Near the midway point of the 2005 season, Dallas took a chance on the former first-round selection. He filled a role as a special teams player for the franchise as the season wound to a close.
Colombo came alive for Dallas in 2006. He won the starting right tackle job out of training camp. The man who was at one time a frequent visitor to the trainer’s room started every game for the team. He was just as reliable the following season. Marc continued to be a steady piece on the Dallas offensive line until his leg was rolled up by a defender in a game against Green Bay.
Colombo’s final injury did open the door for Doug Free to insert himself into the starting lineup and eventually the Cowboys' youth movement led to Colombo being released. During the time he wore a Dallas jersey though, Colombo proved himself to be a more than capable player along the offensive front.
Jonathan Cooper’s story now mirrors that of Colombo, who will be his assistant offensive line coach with the Cowboys.
Cooper was the first-round selection of the Arizona Cardinals in 2013, but thus far he has not had the success that is expected from his draft pediree. Cooper suffered a broken fibula in his first preseason. Although he was able to return for his second season, Cooper was slow to rebound and he did not show the signs of being the top-rated guard that he had been in college. Turf toe and knee injuries also limited his performance for the Cardinals.
Further knee issues caused Cooper to finally lose his job in Arizona in the 2015 season.
A second chance with the New England Patriots gave Cooper a new lease on life but a right foot injury soon slowed him down and he was eventually released. Jonathan then joined the Cleveland Browns where he started three of the five games he played for the team.
Following his release in Cleveland the Cowboys signed Cooper. With the retirement of Doug Free and the departure of Ronald Leary, Cooper finds himself with perhaps one last chance to create a role for himself in the National Football League. Perhaps it will be as the swing tackle behind La’el Collins and Zack Martin. If Collins moves into Free’s role, Cooper could find himself once again as a starting guard in the league.
The biggest challenge will be for him to stay healthy. If he can do that and regain form, Jonathan Cooper might finally take the place his draft status seemed to set him up to assume.
For a mentor who has been there, Jonathan needs to look no further than his coach to find inspiration.