New Orleans Saints Tight End Jared Cook
Training Camp Video conference with New Orleans Media
Thursday, August 13, 2020
Have you flushed last season? Or are you still kind of looking back at it and saying, you know what, I wonder what would have happened had we been together the whole season yourself through?
"There are still some plays on the film that haunt me and of course, we're still going back over those plays, and running through them, but they're still plays that haunt me that I still wish I could have back. So it's still you know, learning from those, talking through them, getting the report, getting on the same page. Because it's a lot different when you're going through a season, you're on to the next week, you don't have a lot of time to just sit there and reflect. But now, we have that time. So we're doing that. And, you know, hopefully this season will be a lot different. Being that me and Drew (Brees) do have a full season together and more time. So it's just working through those things and (working to) continue to get better."
Kind of in that vein, is there a way for you to kind of carry that momentum from the way you ended last season into this season, or is it all start from scratch?
"Being I was here last year, it's a lot easier than coming in fresh off the street. So now, Drew knows how I run routes, he knows the indicators that I give and you know that helps quite a bit in gaining with your quarterback. So hopefully this year we're a few steps ahead than last year and we can pick up a lot better. We've kind of felt that so far in practice, and hopefully it just continues to get better. And once the games start, it just continues to grow and hit a lot faster than last year."
I guess similar to the previous question, what did you attribute that November/December to? I mean, you kind of exploded towards the back half of the season. What did you kind of attribute that to?
"That's when you want to click right. So you want to play your best ball in November going into December, especially when you're trying to get into the playoffs. And that's when we really needed it. And I feel like me and Drew just had that time to connect, that time to work. And that time to understand each other. After that bye week, is when we really had to step it up, from me and Drew's perspective, because I missed two weeks before the bye week and he missed those five. So coming off of the bye week, we knew we had to really push and, and catch up with the rest of the guys on the team that had already been playing in those games. So, it's just continuing to work on that and work through that."
You mentioned that, you know, a few plays that you still kind of haunt you from last season that influence how you approached or attacked the offseason as to you know, what you looked to improve on?
"Not necessarily. My work ethic's going to be my work ethic, regardless of what happens. Now, what I do is I go back and learn from those plays on what I could have been different in the moment. But when you're moving 100 miles an hour, it's a little difficult to evaluate that. So, my work is always going to be my work. It's just how do I get better and continue to improve each year and improve now that I've had this offense under my belt for a year, I should be playing faster, and improve and keep getting better, my second year in this offense."
If you could elaborate more on those plays that you have been going over, specifically, just what moments from last season are the ones that stand out the most if you can share that with us?
"It was a couple in the Atlanta game that me and Drew (Brees) missed each other on. We talked about those early this past week, and kind of cleared the air. And it's just plays like that. There was one early in the Tampa Bay game where Teddy (Bridgewater) overthrew me. There was another one in the Seattle game, it's just continually going over plays and talking through them, and making sure that you never make the same mistake twice. Now, how do you grow from last year to this year? And continue with that same mentality of not making the same mistakes, so it is just going over and revisiting. It sucks to revisit, that's like the worst part, but it makes you better forward."
Yesterday the Saints announced that there wouldn't be any fans for game one. You know, I guess what was your reaction to that? And you know the potential for there not to be fans at several games this season, whether it's home or away.
"I definitely think it's a bummer. Fans motivate us. Having people in the stands, crowd control, they influence the way the game goes, they influence snap counts. Influence motivates defense, makes it louder and harder for opposing offenses when they're in the building. So, I think, you know, it's going to definitely be different. And it's going to take some getting used to, you're definitely going to be able to hear all the calls from both quarterbacks, ours and there's, and opposing offenses, and calls from the defense as well. So it's definitely going to take some getting used to, but you know, we've got to stay safe. We've got to keep everybody else safe. I couldn't imagine, with the way things are going now, how they would play with a full packed stadium with COVID going around now. So hopefully they'll have it figured out and hopefully the fans can start falling in soon."
Can you tell me what impressed you most about Michael Thomas getting to watch him up close during that historic season last year?
"Probably his work ethic. Every route, he runs hard, whether it's a walk through, or whether it is a regular practice and also he has very strong hands. He is a big receiver that knows how to use his body to get open. At the catch point, he attacks the ball and you are not going to get the ball away from him if you are a DB. So I think he plays well for (his) size and he (uses) the size as an advantage, which you do not see in a lot of big receivers, a lot of them do not run as well or attack the ball as well as Michael. He does a great job of doing that. And also getting in and out of his breaks."
I'm wondering if the ways the coaching staff approaches, like turnovers, ball security, is different here than in some of your previous stops and maybe it's not just the coaches, maybe Drew Brees and his approach to it?
"I think it's a heavier emphasis on it here. Verbally. I think Coach Payton says it the best, he always says you're carrying everyone's hopes and dreams when you have the football in your hands. So I think that's the perfect example. And a perfect way to put it because that ball is gold and when you're running with it is imperative that you do all you can to secure it and hold onto it. A lot of other places, they really don't emphasize it. It's just kind of scrolled over in the initial meetings and the first week's meeting and then you work on it in practice, but here, they really harp on it, even the first (team) meeting this past week. We had a whole slide on it, and how it affects your season as well as your games and the turnover differential. So that's, that's one thing that he really harps on here, for sure."
I know with all the new safety protocols, the testing daily, dividers in the locker room. Have you kind of gotten a sense of what practice is going to be like or if you need these protocols that are kind of going to affect the way you guys do things moving forward?
"I really think that it only affects what we do off the field for the most part, the good thing about having confidence in being on the field is everybody has tested negative, we haven't had any positive cases in the building so they're really doing everything they can outside of the locker room or excuse me in the locker room, and around the halls in order to ensure there is no spread and that everything is cleaned. Now, on the field, we've had kind of like this acclimation period, but as far as on the field, everything's pretty much normal, which is great. I couldn't imagine trying to be in this heat down here playing with a mask on so we're just in business as usual. Everybody's getting better. Everybody's practicing together. So it's business as usual."
What have been your impressions of Jameis Winston so far, just kind of seeing him for the first time?
"Jameis is, I feel like he's a good quarterback. He's still trying to get used to this system. But when he steps into that, when he steps into that huddle man, it's definitely business. And he wants you to look him in his eyes every time he calls a play to make sure he got it and to make sure you have it. So he's definitely a character and fun to have around the locker room"
We were talking to Zach Strief earlier and he was talking about the importance of having guys that are self starters because of not having fans in that first game. And he said it was gonna be easier on the defense to have those self starters because of hype men. In your opinion after a year on this team, who's the biggest offensive hype man?
"I do not know, that is a tough one. I would probably say T Stead (Terron Armstead) or maybe AK (Alvin Kamara). Because usually when Double D (Demario Davis) gets started in practice, it is either a T Stead, AK or Mike T (Michael Thomas) that goes back out. So I would say one of those three guys that will probably sell stories. And they really get everybody else going as well on the offense."
Did you get a chance to work with Drew Brees or any of your teammates in the offseason or did you kind of go at it alone this year?
"I went at it alone this year. With everything going around, it was just really tough. I was not really traveling anywhere, I was just keeping myself safe as well as my loved ones. So I didn't really get any work with anybody or travel anywhere."
Jared, just want to see if you could speak on your impressions if you have any, on some of those young tight ends that have joined you, like Adam Trautman?
"Adam is doing a great job. He's adapted to the offense really well, a lot of this offense he played in college, which has helped him kind of come in quick and adapt. He is getting a lot of reps. He has good strong hands, runs good routes. So I am excited. It is been pretty cool to have him and a young guy that can come in and contribute this early so far in camp it's been easy. It's been an easy transition to have him kind of step up and run a lot of plays with the ones. So I'm excited to see what he continues to bring to the team."
Jared, just Tommy Stevens, the transition he's making from quarterback to tight end in how much are you helping them? How much? How difficult could it be for someone like him just making that transition right now?
"Pretty tough. The first week he was kind of running with the quarterbacks and now he has transitioned a little bit full time into the tight ends. So tight ends are all about the mindset. It is about what you bring to the table. How dirty you want to get your nose. And I think that's one of the biggest things he has to get used to as playing tight end. And then just technique stuff. He catches the ball really well. It's just all about blocking technique. It is about how you come out of your stance. It is about his releases off the line that he has to get used to. And they have been working on him, working with him. Declan Doyle and Coach Dan (Campbell) have been working with him a lot. And he actually had a lot of improvement today. So hopefully, he continues to improve."
Jared, this is a non Saints question. But did you get a chance to see George Kittle's contract today? And just what does that say for tight ends?
"I did. It's huge for tight ends. Especially young tight ends across the board. How I feel is, we do the most, but other than the quarterback, we do some of the most work on the offense and not all the time, we're compensated for that. So to see him be able to emerge as one of the best tight ends in the league and come in, and get a deal like that. It helps out a lot of the younger tight ends in this league. And I hope they're paying attention because if you put up numbers like him, if you work hard and continue to run routes and block like him work like him. It pays off, which is awesome. So congrats to him and that does nothing but help out of the tight end market. So huge for him."
I think when people think about a guy playing quarterback at 41 years old, people just make assumptions about what that person's game is going to be like, and make assumptions that somebody is going to fall off. What's kind of formed your opinion of Drew Nrees in your year that you spent with him? Why is he able to keep it at such a high level into his 40s?
"I think that's just football in general. Once you get (to) a certain age, people start to doubt and discredit the things you have done as if age is a bad thing all the time. And I don't think necessarily think it is. There's people that are 40 years old that are still running the same way when they were 30. And when it comes to Drew, I think it's all about his work ethic. And I think it is about his understanding of the NFL and the game, right. So he might be 40, but his wisdom is off the charts. We were talking about this in the locker room this week, he's seen every single defense that you can play in this league multiple times over and understands how to beat it. So whenever our defense gets to talking, or when they script read, is what is what we call it. We know that Drew is going to be able to get to the right checks, and understand what the pressure or what the defense is trying to give us and be able to check out of that. So the wisdom and how you play the game's something that can never be coached. And I think that is one of the things that you get, when you get with Drew, and I will gladly take that any day because a lot of times when you get a young guy behind center that doesn't necessarily have that or understand what it takes. That's when the danger comes. And you never want to feel like you're being put in danger. So I will take Drew any day. Any day."