Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

Saints' Cooks laughs off criticism he's disruptive

Saints receiver Brandin Cooks sees no connection between him speaking up about his lack of involvement in a Week 12 win and the out-of-synch performance of the offense the following week.

"I laugh when I hear some stuff like that because that wasn't the case at all," Cooks said after practice this week as the Saints prepared to play Bucs today.

New Orleans' lack of rhythm on offense last weekend in a 28-13 home loss to Detroit begged the question whether there was a carry-over effect from the dissatisfaction Cooks expressed after not having a pass thrown to him during a 49-21 Week 12 win over Los Angeles.

But Cooks had other explanations for the Saints' struggles, and his teammates tended to agree with him.

"We weren't able to get our run game going, and when our run game is going is when our offense gets lethal," Cooks said. "I don't feel I disrupted (the offense) at all because if it was the other way around and I had a huge game and we won, then what are people going to say?"

Cooks had nine passes thrown to him against Detroit, more than any other of Drew Brees' targets in that game. He caught seven for 73 yards, but New Orleans struggled to sustain drives and score, largely because of a lack of execution on third downs and because three possessions ended with interceptions.

Brees threw seven passes to tight end Coby Fleener, six to receiver Willie Snead and five to rookie wideout Michael Thomas, who leads the club in catches (69), yards (831) and receiving touchdowns (seven). Brees also threw 12 to running backs.

"Everyone had targets that game. It was not like all the balls went to me," said Cooks, a 2014 first-round draft pick who has 58 catches for 809 yards and six touchdowns this season.

Brees didn't necessarily take issue with the general premise that the appearance of disharmony on a team can sometimes undermine performance. "That might happen other places," he said, but stressed, "I do not feel like that happens here.

"I know there were some issues last week, but we dealt with that stuff very quickly and efficiently. There was nothing lingering from that."

Snead echoed Cooks' and Brees' sentiments. "I'm in the room with the guy and I watch the film and see the stuff we did wrong and what we could have done better," Snead said. "If we win the game, Cooks gets his targets, there's no story. But because we lost like that and the timing was off with the offense, it makes it look like that's the way it is.

As for whether Cooks wishes he had handled his dissatisfaction differently, the receiver said, "I don't regret anything. Life is about lessons."

BROWNS: Starting cornerback Jamar Taylor was signed to a three-year contract extension. Financial terms were not released.

COWBOYS: Receiver and return specialist Lucky Whitehead won't play tonight against the Giants because of an unspecified violation of team rules, the club said.

GIANTS: Running back Shane Vereen was activated off the injured reserve/designated for return list, and the team terminated the contract of offensive lineman Adam Gettis.

JAGUARS: Tight end Julius Thomas (back) and defensive end Jared Odrick (shoulder) were placed on season-ending injured reserve.

PANTHERS: Pro Bowl linebacker Luke Kuechly remains in the league's concussion protocol and will miss his third straight game today.

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