The New Orleans Saints have had to wait until this week to finally get a look at first round draft pick wide receiver Brandin Cooks in action wearing black and gold, but it appears the wait was well worth it.
After following NFL rules and finishing summer classes at Oregon State, which is on the quarter system, Cooks participated this week for the first time in OTA’s for the Saints. Head coach Sean Payton is encouraged by Cooks’ speed, both on the field and in playing catch up to learn a new system.
"He is doing well," Payton said. "I think like any young player, you are quickly giving them as much information as you can, and he is handling it well. There was a portion of today’s practice where we did some specific things in regards to three receiver sets that involved him. Overall he has really picked things up really quickly."
In a few short days, Cooks showcased both his speed and versatility, working with the punt-return team, running wide receiver routes and trying his hand at trick plays like the reverse/end-around â which is a role Cooks could immediately command, given his fast motor.
"He would be a candidate if we were running a reverse or behind or a special play," Payton said when asked about Cooks’ potential use in the Saints running game. "He is someone certainly, with his speed that would be one of the guys we would look to do that with. I think you hope that whenever you add speed to the field, it stretches the defense both in the passing game and the running game. It will just be finding that balance and fitting it into what we are doing."
As for Cooks, he loves New Orleans food, is understandably struggling to adjust to the smothering humidity and is diving head first into executing the Saints’ playbook.
"You just want to get used to the offense and get used to the pace," Cooks said. "These guys have been grinding for three weeks and I come in only for the last couple of days."
Two dynamics are helping Cooks to make up for lost time quickly. He and the Saints coaches have been using frequent internet review sessions to keep him at least mentally up to date on what his teammates are learning and installing.
Once in New Orleans, the receiving corps’ most tenured faces have made it their mission to help Cooks catch up.
"The veteran guys like Marques Colston and Robert Meacham, they’ve all helped out," Cooks said. "We all clicked right away. They’ve been helping me out with my assignments. You hang on their shoulder."
The Saints are now officially done with workouts until they report to training camp in West Virginia at the historic Greenbrier Resort beginning Thursday, July 24.
Cooks, however, has a busy schedule ahead. He’ll first head back to Oregon State for personal workouts. Then he’ll head down to San Diego to invest some quality time with quarterback Drew Brees, an experience he’s still giddy about.
"It’s a dream come true to get to do that," Cooks smiled. "I’m so excited!"