Rams find Brandin Cooks can provide more than big plays
IRVINE, Calif. (AP) — Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay turned up the volume on his first-unit offense, blasting the usual training camp soundtrack of rap music even louder as they went through a series of unscripted situational drills Saturday.
It wasn’t enough to silence the starters, as wide receiver Brandin Cooks made a loud statement with a series of impressive catches.
“He did a great job today and he’s done that over the course of his career,” McVay said. “Brandin is an exciting player. I’ve really been impressed with how quickly he has been able to learn the system, take ownership on the offense, and just getting out here making plays.”
Those highlights included catching a crossing route through traffic and making a contested leaping grab on the next play during a team period, showing why the Rams traded for him in April and signed the former Oregon State standout to a five-year extension last month.
With a new contract in hand, Cooks feels free to go all out entering his fifth season.
“I think a lot of guys when you get that (extension), you go even harder just because you know have that security so you just lay it all out there because of the team believing so highly in you,” said Cooks, who had 65 receptions for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns for New England last season.
Cooks has had at least 1,000 yards receiving and seven touchdown receptions in each of the last three seasons, and early returns in practice have justified McVay’s belief that Cooks will be more than a deep threat complimenting fellow starters Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. However, Kupp believes that one aspect of Cooks’ skill set will have a major impact on how opposing defenses play against the Rams.
“The most visible sign of someone that’s fast is when they catch the deep ball, but you don’t see how much that influences things underneath and clears zones out and allows for guys to get open,” Kupp said. “For the threat that he is, the way safeties are going to have to play him, it’s a huge advantage for us. We just have to make sure we’re doing our job, the other 10 guys on the field.”
McVay likes how Cooks fits in with the other receivers on the roster, a group that was overhauled through free agency, the draft and trades last year before sending first and sixth-round picks to the Patriots for Cooks. What stands out to Kupp is how each receiver is capable of filling every role in McVay’s system, praising Cooks for integrating into the offense so quickly.
“Our receiving corps, just the guys that we have, there is so much diversity in terms of the strengths of our players that I don’t think it’s on one person,” Kupp said. “It’s not one person’s job to run this route. It’s not only one person that can run the deep route. And because of that, it makes it really easy for us to be able to move around and be diverse in our looks and even harder for the defense to get a bead on.”?
The Rams’ backups on defense certainly struggled to keep up with quarterback Jared Goff and his collection of receivers. Kupp was especially pleased with how the offense performed in the red zone during practice. Despite leading the NFL in scoring at 29.9 points per game last season, the Rams got touchdowns on 53.4 percent of possessions inside the 20-yard line.
Cooks showed he can help there by tapping his toes down in the back corner of the end zone for a touchdown during a red-zone drill.
“He can do a variety of things, but it’s exciting to be able to work with players like him where you’re kind of not really limited in any way you can utilize him,” McVay said.
NOTES: Tight end Gerald Everett will not travel with the team next week for joint practices with Baltimore because of a sprained shoulder, McVay said. . Safety Lamarcus Joyner, who has been limited because of a sore Achilles, should return to practice Monday.