METAIRIE, La. -- Brandin Cooks insisted that his frustration over having zero passes thrown his way last week didn't come from "a selfish standpoint" -- that he wants to be great and he wants to contribute to the team's success.
But the New Orleans Saints receiver also said he felt the need to express himself because "closed mouths don't get fed."
"This is a very emotional game. And every once in a while you've got to express that. And you've gotta express what you want," said Cooks, who had zero targets in 45 snaps during Sunday's 49-21 rout of the Los Angeles Rams.
"This is a very emotional game. And every once in a while you've got to express that. And you've gotta express what you want."Brandin Cooks
"It's one of those things, as a competitor, I was frustrated. But at the same time, our offense was moving the ball and we won the game, so that was the bright side of it," Cooks said. "I'm just thinking from a competition standpoint, I always want to help, I feel like, and I necessarily didn't that game.
"I feel like from my mindset, when I touch the ball, things happen, and I just want to help my team in that way."
Cooks hinted at his frustration Monday with an Instagram post about "needing to become a businessman." And sources told ESPN that he has had a growing frustration with his role this season -- mostly the idea that he is used too often as a clear-out receiver instead of as a primary option.
Cooks, a first-round draft pick in 2014 and a former Biletnikoff Award winner at Oregon State, has never shied away from his desire to become an elite player and to be considered more than just a deep threat -- which he reiterated on Thursday.
"I can appreciate [the idea that he drew heavy defensive coverage away to open things up for other players]," Cooks said. "But the great ones, they find a way. So for me, I want that opportunity to find a way even though I'm being double-covered.
"The guys who are remembered in this game are remembered for doing more than one thing. And that's why I wake up every morning and I come in here and work the way I work, because I want to be remembered as one of those guys that is great down the road. Don't get me wrong, that's my strength [catching deep balls], but at the same time I want to continue to develop my game all around. You know, I feel like I'm young. Most guys come into the league at my age, and I still have a lot of growing to do, and I want to continue to do that."
Cooks, who just turned 23 in September, has two of the four longest receptions in the NFL this season -- a 98-yard touchdown in Week 1 and an 87-yard touchdown in Week 6. He has 51 catches for 736 yards and six touchdowns this season. However, he ranks third on the Saints in targets per game and receptions per game behind rookie Michael Thomas and third-year pro Willie Snead.
Coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees both said Wednesday that they are not concerned about Cooks, stressing what a hard worker he is, and they both explained how much attention he receives from opposing defenses. Cooks said Brees' message to him was, "Your opportunities will come. They always will. So don't let it get to you. It's just the name of the game, sometimes that happens."
"So that's great when you have your quarterback [encouraging you like that]. It's not like he was mad or upset about it. It's just one of those things, just get back to work," Cooks said.
"Guys have been good about it. And they know me, and it's not coming from a selfish standpoint. So that's the beautiful part about it. I feel like my teammates got to know me over the three years and they know that's coming more from the want to be great, the want to be remembered. So there's no selfish part about it, and I really feel from the guys that they know that as well."