Fisher familiarity sold Cook on St. Louis

March 14, 2013

Jared Cook's familiarity with coach Jeff Fisher made the free agent tight end a natural fit with the St. Louis Rams. The Rams remained hopeful of adding another big piece to the offense, tackle Jake Long.

Fisher said Thursday at a news conference to introduce Cook that Long was still in town a day after interviewing with the team. Fisher believed the team also was in the running for safety Louis Delmas, who also interviewed with St. Louis.

The physical exam with Long had no red flags, Fisher said. Long was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2008 draft and started every game his first three seasons, but has missed six games the last two years.

''He's a very, very talented player and he's still got a lot left,'' the coach said. ''You have to do your due diligence from a physical standpoint, we've done that, and let's see where it goes.''

Fisher scoffed off a remark from incumbent left tackle Rodger Saffold's agent that a move to right tackle would make his player unhappy.

''You know, we had discussions with Rodg, not his agents,'' Fisher said. ''And what I'm concerned about right now is Rodger, and Rodger's fine.''

The 6-foot-5, 248-pound Cook, who got a five-year, $35.1 million contract, played his first two seasons in Tennessee under Fisher in 2009-10. The Rams envision having Cook, who said the majority of his snaps last year came from the slot, and holdover Lance Kendricks on the field at the same time.

Cook's production slipped a bit last year with 44 catches, an 11.9-yard average and four touchdowns after getting 49 receptions, a 15.5-yard average and three TDs in 2011. He's confident, to say the least, in his abilities.

''I see the word potential as you really ain't done nothing, and I don't see that as myself,'' Cook said. ''I think I'm on the elevator going up. I don't see myself looking back at all, and I'm excited about the future here.''

Cook ran a 4.49 40 at the Combine and said it was ''safe to say'' he still had that speed. He has enthusiasm to spare, too.

''You play for the excitement, you play to line up on Sundays ... '' Cook said. ''I'm here to play and get better and be a great tight end, and look good doing it.''

He's fired up about the franchise's future. The Rams were 7-8-1 in Fisher's first season after totaling 15 victories the previous five years.

''I know his vision, I know what he's capable of, and I'm excited the path the Rams organization is taking,'' Cook said. ''It's been a big turnaround and it looks like they're headed for clear skies.''

Cook could give the Rams a battleship look in the slot, replacing 190-pound Danny Amendola, the unrestricted free agent who signed with the New England Patriots to replace Wes Welker, according to Fisher.

''You'd think as soon as Welker leaves, Danny's their guy, and in fact he is,'' Fisher said. ''He's going to be very productive in their offense.''

Fisher said he'd likely fill one of his safety vacancies with Darian Stewart, who played mostly special teams last year after getting injured early but made 13 starts in 2011. It doesn't hurt Stewart that he and Cook are friends.

''He didn't get a chance to play very much but he's a very talented player,'' Fisher said. ''And so, yeah, he steps up and he's our guy. We're counting on him.''

Cook said Fisher called him a few times but had no specific sales pitch.

''He didn't have one. I know the guy. What did he have to say?'' Cook said with a chuckle.

Fisher said Cook had been high on the Rams' list and the team was just waiting to see if the Titans would franchise him. Cook priced himself out of Tennessee, wanting to be paid like a wide receiver instead of a tight end.

The Rams beat out the Dolphins for Cook, who said ''quite a few teams'' had shown interest and that it had been a ''bidding war.''

''He fits in a lot of different places,'' Fisher said. ''It's about creating mismatches with him and taking advantage of his ability.''