FOXBORO, Mass. — How exceptional was Brandin Cooks during Monday’s joint practice? He had a wide-open touchdown pass bounce off his hands and still was the best player on the field.
The New England Patriots wide receiver, who’s made several eye-popping plays throughout training camp, kicked off this week by routinely torching a Jacksonville Jaguars secondary led by high-priced cornerback A.J. Bouye.
“He’s a great player, a great dude, and he works super hard,” said Gronkowski, who hauled in a similar catch during a 2014 game against the Denver Broncos. “So I’m not surprised at all to see him making plays like that when you see how hard the kid works.”
All told, Cooks found the end zone on three of his seven receptions, including this contested grab over cornerback Jalen Myrick:
Even Cooks’ worst play of the day was impressive, as he blew past Bouye and safety Tashaun Gipson before being unable to hang onto a 50-yard heave from Tom Brady.
Bouye, who played against the Patriots twice last season as a member of the Houston Texans, believes Cooks’ speed will add another dimension to a New England offense that already boasted one dangerous deep threat in wideout Chris Hogan.
“(Cooks) adds that deep threat,” Bouye said. “Even when we were in post-safety, you could see Brady was able to throw it over the post-safety and expect for Cooks to outrun the corner and the safety.
“Just the deep threat that he adds, you have to play a little bit softer, even while you’re pressing. He has great route-craft, and I feel that he’s going to make their (defensive backs) and us better this week.”
Cooks, who was traded to the Patriots in March, is coming off two highly productive seasons with the New Orleans Saints. He caught 84 passes for 1,138 yards and nine touchdowns in 2015, then posted nearly identical stats (78 catches, 1,173 yards, eight scores) in 2016.
If Cooks’ training camp performance thus far is any indication of what’s to come, the Patriots’ offense will be incredibly difficult to stop this season.
Thumbnail photo via Zack Cox/NESN.com