Orlando, Fla. – Jared Cook isn't a solo act this year.
The New Orleans Saints tight end doesn't need to say that he'd rather be preparing to play next Sunday in the Super Bowl in Miami, instead of this Sunday in the Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. That much should be glaringly obvious, for him and his teammates.
But if he has to be in Orlando for the second consecutive year, at least he's surrounded by familiar faces.
Eleven Saints are members of the NFC Pro Bowl roster this season – cornerback Marshon Lattimore won't be play due to an injury – so Cook can find a friendly face almost anywhere he turns inside the locker room.
Last year, as a member of the Oakland Raiders, he was his team's lone participant in the game.
"It's really cool," Cook said. "Last year, I was out here by myself. It's good to have other guys to represent your home team and represent where you play. So it's good to see these guys again, it's good to hang out with them on a little bit more of a personal level."
They have a solid idea of what Cook possesses on a professional level.
In his first year with the Saints, Cook had one of the most productive of his 11 seasons despite missing two games: 43 catches for 705 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns. He was most effective in the second half of the season, catching 28 passes for 537 yards and seven touchdowns.
In addition to missing his two games, he and the Saints offense also adjusted to quarterback Drew Brees missing five games.
"I always think about it, and that's what it's going to be to me," Cook said. "It's going to be a what-if. 'What if Drew had stayed healthy? What if I would have stayed healthy? What if we would have had all cylinders clicking?'
"But you live with it. That's all we've got. That season's over with, we've got to look forward to the next one."
If the next one is like the previous two for Cook, it'll be another productive one. In 2018 and '19, Cook caught a combined 111 passes for 1,601 yards and 15 touchdowns.
"I think if you put your mind to anything and you continue to grind through your adversities, your trials, your ups and your downs, then you're going to get to where you want to be," he said. "I just use that as motivation to keep going."
Meanwhile, he's enjoying the Pro Bowl experience as much as he can, seeing some old faces and learning some new ones, and sharing a few tips here and there.
"We share a little bit," Cook said, smiling. "(NFC) Coach (Pete) Carroll (of Seattle) encouraged us in meetings today to get to know your opponent a little bit better so it helps you on Sundays when the regular season comes. We share a little bit, but I don't think guys tell everything."
New Orleans Saints players took part in team festivities in Orlando, FL ahead of the 2020 National Football League Pro Bowl.