ST. LOUIS — Jared Cook’s decision to sign with the St. Louis Rams had a lot to do with the dynamic offensive plan they unveiled and reuniting with head coach Jeff Fisher.
Coming off a huge debut, the big-body tight end with getaway skills said it was every bit as important that the defense be good enough to give him a chance.
“They kind of sold me on what they had going on as an offense,” Cook said Wednesday after practice. “I already knew they had a good defense and I was excited about that even more.
“You want the defense to be good enough to get you the ball back and these guys can do it.”
The defense did its job in the opener, shutting down Arizona in the fourth quarter of a 27-24 comeback victory. Sam Bradford got four possessions to rally with an offense that featured lots of four-wide receiver sets and speed to stretch the secondary.
The 6-foot-5, 248-pound Cook was the star with seven catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns, the first multi-touchdown game of his career. He’ll present matchup problems again in Week 2 at Atlanta.
“Jared Cook had a gigantic game,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “That guy can run.”
Cook owns single-game yardage records for a tight end for both franchises. Sunday’s total broke the Rams’ mark of 126 yards by Pete Holohan in 1988, but his best game statistically was 169 yards in 2011 for Tennessee.
“Everything’s going well for our offense, everything’s going well for our team,” Cook said. “We have a lot of guys that can play multiple positions and we’re still building on it.”
Both Cook and Bradford refused to sulk after critical mistakes and played key roles in the comeback.
“In this business, you’ve got a very short memory,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “Sometimes there’s going to be negative plays and you put them behind you and just keep going.
“That kind of summed up the team last week, whatever happened the first three quarters was over, and they still had enough time and made the plays.”
After a tipped pass was intercepted by defensive tackle Dan Williams for a 2-yard touchdown return that put Arizona up by 11, Bradford was 9 for 9 to finish the game. Cook was a favorite target with a 1-yard touchdown pass near the end of the third quarter and a key 25-yard gain leading to Greg Zuerlein’s deciding 48-yard field goal in the final minute.
Cook’s biggest gain of the day was hollow, a 47-yarder that ended 8 yards shy of a gallop to the end zone when fast-closing rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu punched the ball free and the Titans recovered for a touchback. Sure, it was stunning.
“It happens,” Cook said. “I was just moving, man, and he just caught me by surprise.”
The turnaround, he added, “almost has to be immediate. As soon as it happens, you have to forget about it and go on to the next play.”
Near the end of the half, Cook stretched for the pylon on a 13-yard touchdown catch. Late in the third quarter he slipped unnoticed into the back of the end zone on a 1-yard grab set up by running back Daryl Richardson’s strong decoy work.
Cook was a third-round draft pick in 2009 and began to blossom in 2011, the year Fisher took a coaching sabbatical. Last winter he was a must-sign for the Rams after the Titans elected not to use the franchise tag and got a five-year, $35.1 million deal.
The Rams worked out in 97-degree heat Wednesday, conditions that Fisher believed were among the toughest of the summer.
Running back Isaiah Pead was back on the field after serving a one-game suspension, and Fisher said he’d be worked into the mix. Daryl Richardson, who had virtually all the carries in the opener, did not practice but is expected back Thursday.