How Saints WR Brandin Cooks plans to take his game to the next level

The Saints selected wide receiver Brandin Cooks No. 20 overall. 

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A fast start to New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks’ rookie season had an abrupt ending.

Cooks, who had 53 receptions for 550 yards and 3 touchdowns in 10 games, sustained a thumb injury in Week 11. The injury required surgery and Cooks was placed on the season-ending IR. Nearly two months later, Cooks has been attacking the weight room and the field with the same type of intensity that made him a first-round pick a year ago.

"I’ve been cleared for three weeks," Cooks told in a telephone interview. "I’ve been catching balls, lifting weights and getting back into it. I’m looking forward to hitting it really hard right after the Super Bowl ends."

Cooks, along with a large contingent of last year’s rookie class, has spent the past week in Long Beach, Calif., at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl game. Appearing with Panini NFL trading cards, the 21-year-old has taken some time to reflect on his first year in the league after a decorated collegiate career at Oregon State.

"I feel like I had an all right season," Cooks said. "Unfortunately, I had to end my season a little short, but for the time that I played I thought I got better every game and got used to the NFL each week.

"I’m completely confident in my abilities and there’s no question about it. This work that I’m going to put in during the offseason will be huge for next year. I can’t wait to get out there and be a playmaker."

Shortly after Cooks was selected 20th overall, he returned to Corvallis to finish his classes and graduate. Getting up to speed in the Drew Brees-led offense was challenging, but the former Biletnikoff Award winner —€“ given to the best receiver in college football —€“ made up for lost time.

Before training camp began, Cooks spent time with Brees at his offseason home in San Diego to work on the duo’s timing. While Brees threw for a league-leading 4,952 yards and earned a Pro Bowl nod, the Saints’ postseason expectations fell short. Cooks plans on a rendezvous this offseason.

"Yes I’ll be out there again this year," Cooks said. "I won’t change that. As long as he’s my quarterback, I’ll be out there working with him."