For the third time in four years, an organization introduced Brandin Cooks as the newest member of their football family. This time around, his introduction was drastically different. Instead of dressing to impress in a room full of local reporters, Cooks casually dressed in the comfort of his own home, as the Houston Texans welcome their newly acquired wide receiver during a virtual press conference via Zoom on Thursday.
After spending the past two seasons as a member of the Los Angeles Rams, Cooks, 26, was traded to the Texans in early April in exchange for a second-round 2020 draft pick — used to select Van Jefferson, wideout from Florida.
“The way I look at it, I am wanted and valued at a high level,” Cooks said. “To be honest, I am blessed to be able to play with so many different teams, quarterbacks and organizations. I don’t think of it as a negative, and I am a guy who can adjust pretty quickly. Wherever I go, I am going to ball.”
Ingraining himself into a new system is a challenge all too familiar for Cooks. But similar to his press conference, Cooks must try to get accustomed to his new teammates in Houston virtually amid in the midst of a global pandemic. With training facilities closed, Cooks has taken the initiative to work out at his home, leading by example that this is not the time to relax but to stay ready.
“The most important thing is, I think the biggest thing I tell the guys is just be in shape and not taking this time as a time to relax or to sit back,” he said. “Just because you never know when we’re able to get back out there as a team so you want to be ready.”
Right off the bat, Cooks clarified that his main goal in Houston is to help the team win, and not the standpoint of replacing DeAndre Hopkins‘ on-field production. While playing alongside two other receivers who share similar skill sets (Will Fuller and Kenny Stills), leadership and the lessons he learned throughout his six-year pro career is what Cooks is hoping to bring to the locker room in Houston.
“I think from a bigger standpoint, just a leadership role, just the way that I go about the game and my process, just being a veteran voice in that room with the special guys that are all the way around,” he said. “I’ve been blessed and fortunate to play with such special quarterbacks. I look forward to just sharing that knowledge that I’ve learned from them with guys in the locker room.”
Originally drafted in the first round (No. 20 overall) by the New Orleans Saints in 2014, the prodigy out of Oregon State University has recorded 5,730 receiving yards and 34 touchdowns throughout his career. With the Texans, Cooks will be able to add Deshaun Watson‘s name to an impressive list of quarterbacks he has played alongside — which includes two Hall of Famers Drew Brees and Tom Brady, as well as the two-time Pro Bowler Jared Goff.
While trying to learn his new quarterback through film, what excites Cooks the most is the similar characteristics he sees in Watson when compared to Brees and Brady.
“He makes every single throw just like those guys, and just from the little bit that I’m gaining from him, his process and his hunger and his drive and dedication is there as well.,” he said. “That’s what I’ve learned from those guys and saw from them every single day. So, I look forward to getting with him in person and really see that come alive.”
In a world that seems foreign, the one familiarity Cooks has as he joins the Texans is his relationship with Executive Vice President of Football Operations, Jack Easterby. Prior to his two-year stint with the Rams, Cooks played one season with the Patriots in 2017 and bonded with Easterby — who severed as the then-character and team development in New England.
“I can’t say enough about a guy like Jack Easterby and what he’s meant to me and my life just in that one year that I got to know him while I was in New England,” he said. “He’s a special human being not just for me, but for my family, and to be reunited is definitely a blessing.”
After recording over 1,000 receiving yards for four straight seasons, 2019 marked the first time since his rookie year Cooks failed to achieve the feat. He appeared in 14 out of the possible 16 games and posted 583 yards on a career-low 42 receptions. Determined to put aside the disappointment from last season, Cooks says 2019 does not represent the player who he is.
“I think there were a lot of nuances that was going on last year, not just for me but from a team standpoint,” Cooks said. “We had a lot going on and at the end of the day, I dealt with some things on the field, but that does not go to show what type of player I am, the production I’ve been putting in year in and year out since I’ve been in the league.”
“That was just one of those off years, but it comes with the game. That definitely is not the trend that you should be looking for from me as a player.” — Cooks
(Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
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