Joint practice with Jags shows Brady-Cooks connection coming along swimmingly


FOXBORO -- Before Brandin Cooks takes the practice field, he stops near the sideline, takes a moment to himself, then points to the sky. It would come as no surprise if, after 10 practices with Cooks, Brady is thanking a higher power for connecting him with the 23-year-old wideout. 


The Patriots pair had their best practice of training camp on Monday with the Jaguars in town for the first of two joint practices, connecting on multiple occasions for touchdowns. Let's roll through them quickly, because they're each deserving of their own little writeup.

* The first came on a pass that traveled about 50 yards in the air that Cooks tracked and ran underneath after gliding past corner AJ Bouye and safety Tashaun Gipson. Cooks had a step on both players before Brady let it fly, but he separated by another yard or two as he chased it down. He has a gear that most don't.

* The second came when the Jaguars forgot to cover Cooks. Now on the face of things, that's not all that impressive. And when Brady noticed that Cooks was wide open in the back of the end zone, he floated one to the 5-foot-10 receiver that looked like it was overthrown. What Cooks did next drew a huge cheer from the crowd.

* Brady's third touchdown pass to Cooks came on a fade down the sideline with rookie Jalen Myrick (4.28 40-yard dash at this year's scouting combine) on his hip. The pass was perfectly-placed and Cooks reeled it in despite the coverage. 

The day wasn't perfect for Brady and his new down-the-field burner. Cooks dropped a deep ball early in 11-on-11 work when he misjedged Brady's throw and didn't turn on the jets early enough. He also had a missed connection with Brady on a pair of back-shoulder throws -- one during the one-on-one period and one during 11-on-11s when the Jaguars jumped offsides and Brady gambled knowing he had a free play. 

But the good certainly outweighed the bad for Brady and Cooks on Monday. And the Jags -- particularly Bouye, who saw the Patriots passing game up close twice last season as a member of the Texans -- took notice.

"(Cooks) adds that deep threat," Bouye said after the session. "Even when we were in post-safety (coverage), you could see Brady was able to throw it over the post-safety and expect for Cooks to out-run the corner and the safety. 

"Just the deep threat 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."

For Cooks, Monday was another step in the right direction. He's impressed his teammates and receivers coach Chad O'Shea since early on in his Patriots tenure, and his 50-yard catch late last week had Brady tripping over himself with compliments for the former Saints pass-catcher.

Adjusting to the Patriots offense hasn't always been easy for new receivers during the Brady-Belichick Era, but Cooks appears to have caught on very quickly. The formula, he says, isn't all that complicated.

"I think I’m acclimated pretty well. It’s football at the end of the day," he explained. "Just paying attention, staying focused, doing your job. As long as you do that around here I think you’ll be alright."

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