New Orleans Saints rookie Brandin Cooks has been getting some extra sprints in during practice – often with the ball in his hands as he speeds away from would-be tacklers.
The receiver’s growing collection of training camp highlights has the Saints increasingly optimistic that their latest first-round pick will be an immediate, additional threat in a receiving game led primarily by Marques Colston and tight end Jimmy Graham for the past few seasons.
“He’s good, man. He does a lot of the little things well and that’s rare for a rookie coming right in,” Saints safety Jairus Byrd said after Tuesday’s practice. “He’s mature beyond his years.”
The 20-year-old Cooks, who caught a pass in the end zone during red zone work on Tuesday, looked relaxed and confident as he discussed his transition to the NFL from Oregon State, where he caught 128 passes for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns last fall.
“I feel good. It’s football,” Cooks said. “I just come out here and have fun and do what I do best and be a playmaker and learn from older guys.”
Cooks’ speed has been as good as advertised since he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds at the NFL scouting combine last winter.
“He can run. It is our job to get him in space and let him do that,” coach Sean Payton said. “There will be a handful of things we have to do to get him touches, whether it is through the passing game, whether it is through handoffs, bubble screens – he has some versatility.”
Browns bring out gloves
The Browns are ready to rumble.
To prepare for the NFL’s crackdown on defensive holding this season, the team is making its cornerbacks and safeties wear boxing gloves during training camp practices. The smaller, mittenlike gloves – used by kickboxers and in mixed martial arts – are meant to deter players from latching onto jerseys of wide receivers, an allowable tactic in the past but one that will draw a penalty flag now.
When he first saw the padded gloves, Browns Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden didn’t know what to think.
“I came out and we had boxing gloves on,” Haden said. “It was crazy.”
Browns coach Mike Pettine hopes the gloves can help retrain defensive backs from clutching and snatching anything they get their hands on.
“You’ve got to get guys out of that habit,” he said. “It’s more the mentality that they know they have to be able to cover more with an open palm than grabbing and restricting, especially if the rule is going to be called as tightly as we’re told it is.”
Former Washington State WR Marquess Wilson broke his collarbone in Monday’s Chicago Bears practice and had surgery on Tuesday. Coach Marc Trestman said he would be looking to fill the roster spot with a signing, while also look- ing at other receivers in camp.