RENTON, Wash -- Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner didn't waste a second when asked what was the biggest difference between the Cowboys' offense that he faced in September and the one he will see in Saturday's NFC wild-card game.
"Amari Cooper," Wagner said without hesitation, nearly cutting the reporter's question short. "That's pretty much it. Their offense is the same, but [when] you add a guy like that you can throw the ball up to, he can turn a 5-yard route into a 100 yards.
"It changes your offense."
Cooper certainly has the attention of Seattle defenders.
After being acquired from Oakland for a 2019 first-round draft pick, Cooper has been the much-needed spark in the Cowboys' passing game. In nine games with the Cowboys, Cooper has 53 catches for 725 yards and six touchdowns.
The only wide receivers with more receiving yards during that stretch are Indianapolis' T.Y. Hilton (951 yards), Atlanta's Julio Jones and Houston's DeAndre Hopkins (865 each), Kansas City's Tyreek Hill (844), Pittsburgh's JuJu Smith-Schuster (844), Tampa Bay's Mike Evans (754), Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown (736) and New Orleans' Michael Thomas (736).
"[Cooper] has been lighting it up," Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald said. "He has become a real focal point of that offense. They [Cooper and QB Dak Prescott] have got a connection going. They found it pretty early."
When these two teams played in Week 3 in Seattle, a 24-13 Seahawks' victory, Prescott had his worst game of the season, completing 19 of 34 passes for 168 yards with one touchdown, two interceptions and a 54.5 passer rating.
Most glaring was the fact none of Prescott's receivers gained consistent separation from Seahawks defensive backs. Veteran Cole Beasley led the group with his three catches for 46 yards.
Of course, the Seahawks have already faced Cooper, 24, this season with Oakland.
Cooper was not only held without a catch for the only time this season in Seattle's 27-3 victory Oct. 14 in London, he was knocked out of the game on a controversial hit to the head by McDougald early in the second quarter.
No penalty was called on the play as Cooper was helped to the locker room with a concussion. Afterward, Raiders coach Jon Gruden and quarterback Derek Carr were furious, claiming it was clearly an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit.
A few days later, the NFL agreed, stating McDougald should have been penalized for the hit. He eventually received a reported $26,739 fine from the league, which he appealed and eventually had reduced by nearly $7,000.
To this day, McDougald has claimed it was a clean "big hit" leading with the shoulder. He has insisted multiple times that he wasn't trying to hurt Cooper and wished him well in an Instagram post days before the trade to the Cowboys.
McDougald said Wednesday he never heard back from Cooper and isn't sure there will be much interaction before or during the game.
"I don't talk to my opponents, and I don't plan on talking to him much," McDougald said. "I plan on going to work."
Briefly: For a second consecutive day, five Seattle players -- FB Tre Madden (hamstring), CB Shaquill Griffin (ankle), LT Duane Brown (knee), LG J.R. Sweezy (foot) and McDougald (knee) -- did not practice. Sweezy and Griffin are the only starters who appear in jeopardy of missing the game.
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