Copper thankful for many reasons|Former Pam Pack, Pirate star having ‘special’ season

Published 6:28 am Thursday, November 26, 2009

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
Sure, Terrance Copper would love to be a top receiver in the NFL. But, for now, the former Washington Pam Pack and East Carolina Pirates’ star is happy that he’s a valuable member of the Kansas City Chiefs’ special teams.
That’s just one of the reasons why Copper is thankful.
“First and foremost, I’m thankful for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” Copper said after practice Tuesday evening. “My faith has grown a lot. That is something that I am making first in my life. I’m making strides to be a better person.”
As Copper sits down for Thanksgiving dinner today, he’ll be joined by his wife, Kandy, and children Terrance, Tyreek and Taniya.
“I’m thankful for my family,” Copper said. “They’re here with me now.
“I’m also thankful for my health and, really, just everything — everything I’ve been through and everything I haven’t been through.”
Copper’s team, the Chiefs, have been through a lot this season. The team has been faced with adversity, releasing the talented but controversial running back, Larry Johnson. Meanwhile, Kansas City is dealing with the four-game suspension (violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances) of top receiver, Dwayne Bowe.
The Chiefs (3-7) put that aside Sunday and upset the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-24 in overtime.
“It was a very important win, not just because it was against the Super Bowl champs, but getting a win against a good, quality team was important,” Copper said. “I’m not saying that beating the Raiders (16-10 one week earlier) wasn’t a big accomplishment, because we had been struggling and getting any win is important. But for us to beat the reigning Super Bowl champs made us feel like we can compete with anybody out there.
“That’s the confidence we’re taking. We know we can play with anybody, but we have to play good, not turn the ball over and not get a lot of penalties.”
Copper had two special teams tackles in the win over the Steelers, giving him 10 for the season and 51 in his career.
Being a valuable member of the special teams, whether it’s as the gunner on punts or as a return man, is something Copper had taken great pride in recently.
Copper, who has two catches for 11 yards this season, eventually wants to work his way into the receiving corps, but is content playing special teams for now.
“I’m always trying to get better,” said Copper, who has 48 career receptions for 611 yards and six touchdowns. “Right now, where our team is at right now and how things are going, I’m not the one that’s going to cause a controversy or stir something up with our receiving corps or offense.
“I’m a firm believer that my time will come. When it happens, it will happen. Right now my job is special teams, and I’ll do that to the best of my abilities. That’s my way to contribute to the team. I would love to play receiver, but right now I’m not.”
Those who know Copper off the field would be surprised about his on-the-field persona.
“When that game starts, I just get mad at the world,” Copper said with a laugh. “My whole attitude changes. On special teams, it’s all about want-to and the will to do things.
“I just get angry out of nowhere and I take that on the field with me. I feel like I can’t get blocked.”
Whether he’s returning kicks (he has 26 kickoff returns for 502 yards for a 19.3-yard average in his career), blocking for somebody that has the ball or is looking to tackle the player with the ball, Copper said he’s just one piece to the puzzle.
“My role, if I’m not getting the ball, is a valuable asset,” he said. “You have to block. I’m back there as a returner. If the ball isn’t kicked to me, I’m going to block like the other guys.
“Each time you step on the field, all 11 guys are a piece of the puzzle. All the pieces fit together to form your offense, or your defense, or your return team. If one piece of the puzzle is missing, you’re not complete. Every person on that field has to do his job.”
Copper, whose Chiefs play at the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, said it’s difficult to assess how he’s personally done this season.
“I just go out there and give 110 percent every day,” the six-year NFL veteran said. “That’s my whole goal. That’s all I want to do, give it my best every day, whether it be in practice or in the game.
“I’ll let the coaches determine how I’m doing. You’re never as good as you think you are; you’re never as bad as you think you are.”
Copper is hoping Kansas City can make it three straight wins, and continue a playoff push, with a win Sunday.
“We’re taking it one game at a time,” Copper said. “We can’t look too far ahead. We still have playoff hopes. We’re not just playing football games to be playing football games. We still have goals. Our goals are still achievable.”
And for that, Copper is thankful.