FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When the New England Patriots acquired wide receiver Brandin Cooks from the New Orleans Saints in a March trade, some wondered how Cooks might react to not always being a primary option in the potent-but-ever-evolving Patriots passing game.
Cooks had hinted at frustration regarding his usage with the Saints at times last season. Most notably, an Instagram post following a targetless game against the Los Angeles Rams generated some headlines.
If spring practices are any indication, this won’t be a problem for Cooks and the Patriots. Listening to the speedy Cooks on Tuesday, he is all aboard the Patriots' train.
Asked what excites him the most about this year, he said, “The way we work around here. Knowing that coming back [for training camp], it’s a grind. That’s what I’m excited about, to be able to go to war with these guys, and knowing the work that we put in, and doing what I have to do to hold up my end.”
As for what Patriots fans can expect from him, he simply said, “To give them my all, every game, day in and day out.”
The early on-field returns have been solid. Albeit in no-pads practices with no live pass rush, Cooks has made some notable plays and is in the early stages of developing a rapport with quarterback Tom Brady. On one day of the team’s mandatory minicamp last week, he stayed late with Brady as the two worked on the deep passing game together.
He has also caught the attention of coach Bill Belichick with his approach.
“Brandin’s worked hard. Definitely, he has some skill. A transition for him [from New Orleans]; he’s working hard to make it,” Belichick said. “We’ll see how it goes when we get into a more competitive situation [in training camp], but he learns well. It looks like he’s been able to do some multiple things, but we’ll see how all of that transfers in training camp.”
As part of that transition, Cooks has a new jersey number: 14. He donned No. 10 in New Orleans (that is worn by Jimmy Garoppolo in New England), and he has referred to his 14 as “double sevens” -- a reference to the No. 7 he wore at Oregon State.
Meanwhile, in a short time, it seems like he has not only picked up a significant part of the Patriots’ offense but also the way Belichick wants his players to speak about the team publicly.
Asked what stands out to him about the Patriots, he said, “Each person, individually, doing their job and not worrying about anything else. Paying attention to your job is very important here.”
In doing so, that means not worrying about public perception, which Cooks said is easy for him.
“I don’t necessarily ever think about that. I’m not really on the media like that, looking up things like that,” he said. “Fame in my life is not something I strive for, so I don’t pay attention to that.”