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Amari Cooper Credits Sleep As Crucial Factor To Stellar Rookie Season

"I take pride in my sleep," Cooper tells HuffPost.
Amari Cooper led all rookie wideouts in both receptions (72) and receiving yardage (1,070), while his six touchdown catches w
Amari Cooper led all rookie wideouts in both receptions (72) and receiving yardage (1,070), while his six touchdown catches were tied with Seattle's Tyler Lockett for first.

A lot was expected out of Oakland Raiders rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper this season. A unanimous All-American during his junior year at Alabama (he compares the "strict" Nick Saban program to the NFL) Cooper won the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to college football's best receiver, and was drafted fourth overall in 2015.

And, even amidst the mammoth expectations, Cooper delivered, instantly endearing himself to the infamous silver and black. The 6-foot-1 Miami native earned a Pro Bowl selection, while amassing nearly 1,100 yards and six touchdowns. His terrific play helped guide the 7-9 Raiders to a surprising playoff push in the rugged AFC West, including a 15-12 upset win over the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos in December. And he put brand name companies on high notice as a result -- Cooper recently signed on to be one of the new faces of Gatorade.

Cooper, 21, spoke with The Huffington Post via telephone to discuss the secrets to his success, namely ample sleep and a new-found appreciation and respect for his body.

"The speed of the game and the length of the season -- those two things surprised me," Cooper said. "I feel like people can tell you a lot of things, but until you experience it yourself, you don't really have the understanding that you really need."

  • Sleep
    "I think [sleep] is very important. I didn't realize it when I was a younger kid going out there and running around. As I got
    Thearon W. Henderson via Getty Images
    "I think [sleep] is very important. I didn't realize it when I was a younger kid going out there and running around. As I got older and more mature, I realized that sleep was essential."
  • "Attacking The Day"
    "Sleep is essential for you going out and attacking the day and having a great day. I take pride in my sleep."
    Ezra Shaw via Getty Images
    "Sleep is essential for you going out and attacking the day and having a great day. I take pride in my sleep."
  • Napping
    "I don't have to get eight hours of sleep. I think anything six hours or above -- that's pretty good. ... During the day, it'
    Ezra Shaw via Getty Images
    "I don't have to get eight hours of sleep. I think anything six hours or above -- that's pretty good. ... During the day, it's always good to take a nap, a 30-minute nap, but nothing over because your body will think it's actually resting and actually getting a night's sleep, so anytime you can take a 30 minute nap during the day, that's a good feeling."
  • Rookie Wall
    "Of course [I hit a wall]. I feel like being in my rookie season, I wasn't as aware as some veterans on how to take care
    Lachlan Cunningham via Getty Images
    "Of course [I hit a wall]. I feel like being in my rookie season, I wasn't as aware as some veterans on how to take care of my body. How my body would feel after a certain amount of time."
  • The Next Step Toward Greatness
    "Definitely taking care of my body. Getting in that training room as much as I can, because the best ability is availability.
    Joe Robbins via Getty Images
    "Definitely taking care of my body. Getting in that training room as much as I can, because the best ability is availability. ... Getting massages and getting stretched. I feel like getting stretched helped me out a lot. It made my body more ready to go in practice and I just feel new. I just feel better. ... Anytime you practice the way you play, that's an advantage to you."

 Email me at jordan.schultz@huffingtonpost.com or ask me questions about anything sports-related on Twitter at @Schultz_Report, and follow me on Instagram at @Schultz_Report. Also, check out my SiriusXM Radio show Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-6 PM ET on Bleacher Report channel 83.

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