“That offense really didn’t suit me,” the fifth-year tight end said. “It really didn’t fit me. And that’s just how it is. Every team a player goes to, the fit is not perfect. Some guys have to move around to two or three teams until they find a perfect fit.”
Cook, 26, hopes he will have to move only once. A versatile pass catcher who can shift between tight end and receiver, Cook believes he has landed on a team where he can truly shine. Through the second week of organized team activities, the Rams — who signed Cook to a five-year contract worth $35.1 million — seem to think so, too.
“What we’re getting from Jared out there is what we expected,” said Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who coached the Titans during Cook’s first two seasons in Tennessee. “The ball’s going around, we’re matching him up, we’re creating mismatches and he’s making plays.”
“I don’t know if you guys have noticed that … he’s good,” a tongue-in-cheek Sam Bradford said when asked about the hybrid player he calls “Cookie.”
But Cook has always looked good. He’s 6-foot-5 and 248 pounds. He runs a 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds. That’s enough speed to blow past big linebackers, enough size and muscle to neutralize faster adversaries in the secondary.
Yet, for a player whose skill set screams mismatch, the numbers haven’t always added up. His first two years as a Titan were unremarkable. His production increased in 2011 and 2012, when he averaged 46 catches and 641 yards, but he has only eight touchdown catches in his career.
Cook isn’t shy about putting some of that weight on the Titans, a team that over the last two years threw him a total of 14 passes that traveled more than 20 yards past the line of scrimmage.
“That’s kind of one of my specialties that separates me from, I guess, a traditional tight end,” Cook said of his ability to go deep.
He should get more chances to use it now. He has joined a Brian Schottenheimer offense that is being tweaked to fit his strengths. And he has hit it off with Bradford so well that the mention of one to the other tends to make them gush.
“It’s something that I’ve never really had,” Cook said of Bradford’s accuracy. “I’ve always kind of had to use my catch radius, and make kind of circus catches. Not so much here. He puts it right on the money, and he makes good reads. He’s going to hold onto it before he throws interceptions, which is being a smart quarterback. That’s part of being a veteran quarterback, not making dumb decisions, being conscious about your decision making — which is awesome.”
The quarterback returns the lofty praise.
“He’s a big body running down the middle of the field,” Bradford said. “It’s going to be hard for people to match up with him. If they want to put a Mike linebacker on him, we will take that matchup all day. It’s just going to give us the ability open the playbook, and kind of stretch the middle of the field, and put stress on the defense in there.”
So far, it’s a Cook lovefest in St. Louis. Whether that trend continues hinges on whether he thrives in a system catered to his skills. It hinges on Cook showing the Titans they missed out.
Follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.