New Orleans Saints Tight End Jared Cook
Training Camp Video Call with New Orleans Media
Saturday, August 22, 2020
Obviously you are now in your second year going through a training camp with this team. One of the things your coaches mentioned and some of your teammates, it just seems like you're much more comfortable. Is that kind of allowing you to focus on you know, just sort of really improving?
"Yeah. It's kind of picking up where we left off last year. Just (to) continue to get better, continue to build my rapport with Drew (Brees). It's a little different this year, being we didn't have OTAs. So, still working through quite a bit of stuff and then on top of that, our defense has a different look this year as well. They've been throwing a lot of kinks in and given us different looks. So it's getting used to that and just getting used to moving full speed with Drew (Brees) again."
What have you seen from Tommy Stevens in the week, week and a half that he's been a tight end?
"It's kind of like a fish out of water with Tommy (Stevens). A little bit new to the position, but a lot of improvement. He's getting better in the run game, learning how to use his pad level a little bit better, stay lower. And, you know, just learning what a lineup and continue to get better in his route running as well. So you know, it's just a learning curve, each and every day for Tommy (Stevens). And you know, he has a lot of room for improvement and a lot of room to grow, which he seemed very open to. And his willingness to learn a position and get better at it."
From a 10,000 foot perspective, I know from a team standpoint, obviously, a successful season would probably be defined as winning a Super Bowl, but individually, what would you consider a successful season now that you feel like you're in rhythm with Drew Brees, and feel like you guys can hit the ground running?
"Each and every year you want to improve. Last year I set personal highs in TDs and YAC (yards after catch). And I think that was really huge for me, but I still feel like I can improve on that and get better, you know. Early off me and Drew (Brees) were out, in the beginning of the season. So I feel like having a full season with him under our belt, and to play together and continue to improve, that's only going to make this team and us better and this offense better. So you know, it's continuing to get better each and every year and set my personal goals high, to where I can reach them and something I can continue to attain."
With you setting those personal bests for YAC and TDs. Obviously nobody wants to miss time, but is there a silver lining in that, knowing that you still achieved those goals and you didn't play in every game?
"Yeah, absolutely. Like you say, right. You never want to miss time, but being that I did miss two games and then Teddy (Bridgewater) started off the season strong last year. But, going into the season your rapport wasn't with Teddy (Bridgewater) right? So being that we could get a full camp in together with Drew (Brees) once again this year and go into the season, Lord willing everybody healthy and everything clicking on all cylinders. You know, the potential to start off the season stronger and to finish the season stronger is there, you know. We just got to go out and do it. We got to continue to work through this point in camp, where we are now and just continue to get better. And that's only going to help us set up for a successful season. So we've got to make sure that we focus on that, stay healthy and continue to improve."
How do you see the offense functioning so far in camp? You guys have had some real spirited practices against the defense. But how do you see the offense functioning right now?
"I think we're doing pretty good. I think it's some areas of improvement, but off the bat in terms of energy coming off the ball, firing off the ball, finding running lanes for the running backs, moving the ball downfield, I think we're doing pretty good. You know, there's always room for improvement and it's still early. And I think we could get a lot better than that, than we are right now. And like I said before, defense, they got a new look to them this year, man. They're firing off the ball and they got Malcolm Jenkins back there. That's helping them quite a bit. And they're throwing a lot of different looks at us offensively, but I think we definitely have room for improvement. And you know, that's the good thing about practicing against such a good defense is, you know, obviously, sometimes they're going to win some, but those are the type of defenses that get you ready for Sunday. The better that your defense is in practice and the better competition that you have to go up against, the better and easier your looks are going to be on Sunday."
Do you get the sense from last year, and I guess rolling into training camp that this team really has a good idea of how to use the physical dimensions that you give in the red zone?
"You hope so and not only in the red zone, but just across the field and across the board. And you hope that a team recognizes what each individual player can bring to the table. Right? So that opens up, that opens up your tool shed to a lot of different, you know, like the swiss army knife like Coach Payton likes to use. That just gives you more weapons on your swiss army knife when you understand what each type of player brings to the table, and who they are, and the things that they can do in terms of your offensive ability. So I hope so."
Can you tell us a little bit about Jameis (Winston) and just what you've seen from him? Either in the huddle or outside of the huddle.
"I feel like he's getting a lot more confident in this offense. You could see him working in between periods just, working on play calling, working on his vision, working on you know, his reads, and just getting an understanding. And I think I see him getting a lot more comfortable in this offense and making the right throws. Today, we had some one on ones, and you know, it's different playing with him and Drew (Brees). He has a lot more velocity to his ball. And his balls come out a lot faster than Drew's (Brees) and he could put some heat on the ball, man. And he's able to just make the right throws and get them in in a timely manner. I think he's going (to) be alright. And I think he's (going to) pick up pretty well. So he's improving, he's getting better. This is a time where he can really get a step up and kind of learn and continue to, you know, learn this offense and get it mastered, so. And I think he's doing that quite well."
How tough of an adjustment is that for you to, you know, have to adjust from the velocity of his balls (Winston), to Taysom's (Hill), to Drew's (Brees)?
"With veteran quarterbacks it's quite different. You know, just in terms of when the ball gets there. Like Drew's (Brees) balls, his balls come out a lot earlier. It's a timing thing with him. And with Jameis sometimes, or younger quarterbacks, they have the ability to just fire it in there. Not necessarily meaning that, that's always the right thing to do, but they can squeeze the ball in there a lot later sometimes. So it is a lot of times, being the receiver, it comes down to focus. With Drew (Brees), I feel like it's more, get your head around, get your eyes around so you can tell that, when the ball's coming. With those receivers, it's a lot, focus on, make sure you receive the catch and haul it in because sometimes they're more apt to fit it in and squeeze it in those tight windows."
You mentioned the yards after catch, being better than it has been this past season. I just, I'm curious, you mentioned the last time that you talked, the body language of you and Brees being on the same page has developed. And I'm curious to, his accuracy and the ability to get it out early, how much does that help your yards after catch as well?
"It helps a lot, especially when he knows what the defense is bringing, he can anticipate that throw and you're able to give an indicator to him on when you're braking or when you're coming out of your route. A lot of times that helps get the ball in your hands early before the defender gets there or before the defender breaks towards you. So you're able to catch that ball, get your eyes around faster, and look upfield to anticipate the angles in which the defender's trying to get to you or tackle you. That way you can split the defenders or maybe you can shake up, give a shake move and get around to the outside. When you're able to see the same thing as the quarterback, it makes it a lot easier pre snap. It makes it a lot easier when the balls in the air, as well as when you're coming out of your break once you've received the ball and gotten North and South."