Rams TE Jared Cook bounces back after rough stretch
ST. LOUIS (AP) The NFL trading deadline came and went this week and tight end Jared Cook remains a St. Louis Ram.
''That's all been squashed,'' Cook said Friday after practice at Rams Park. ''I didn't even think about it. I just left it there and I'm here.''
Cook has 19 catches for 245 yards this season, totals that are down from his first two seasons in St. Louis. In 2013, he had 51 receptions for 671 yards and five touchdowns; last season, he had 52 catches for 634 yards and three TDs.
Cook has two years remaining on his five-year $35 million contract. He has a base salary of $7 million in 2016 and $7.1 million in 2017.
After a tough game two weeks ago against Cleveland where he fumbled the ball in the red zone, Cook bounced back.
In last weekend's 27-6 win over San Francisco, Cook had a 49-yard reception against San Francisco 49ers cornerback Kenneth Acker, who was injured on the play. Cook broke two tackles after the catch and it led to a 2-yard TD run by Tavon Austin with 18 seconds left the first half.
It was the second-longest pass play for the Rams this season. Cook called it fun - and the 6-foot-5, 254-pounder also had a two-point conversion catch earlier in the half.
''Yeah, that was cool. It was a play that we've been working on for that situation,'' Cook said. ''I'm able to use my size on a play like that.''
Cook's 57 total receiving yards, second only to Austin's 98, were his most since the Week 1 victory over Seattle (five catches, 85 yards).
Maintaining a level of consistency has always been a problem for Cook, and this season is no different. After his strong showing against the Seahawks, Cook had a five-game stretch where he did little. Against Cleveland, Cook dropped four passes in addition to the fumble.
Against the 49ers, Cook enjoyed a better performance. Coach Jeff Fisher had said he has no interest in trading Cook.
''He's a big part of our offense,'' he said. ''Jared knows the game's competitive and it's tough. Occasionally, there's going to be a mistake. He doesn't make them on purpose, but he's always been one to come back. He bounces back. Whenever he's had an issue, then he's always seemed to bounce back with a big play.''
With Todd Gurley igniting the running game and Austin making big plays at receiver, that might open things more Cook as a receiver.
''I hope so. We're always expected to go out there and do well and try to put up points,'' Cook said. ''You just never know if more balls will come your way.''
However, he knows he's being called on to block more for the running game. Cook has had to change as the offense uses him for that.
''They're using me how they need me right now,'' Cook said. ''I just sit in the holster and wait until they're ready to use me. I'm like a soldier and you do what they ask you to do. So yeah, I'm blocking more. It's part of the game. It's just how the season's gone.''
In Sunday's game at Minnesota, there may be more opportunity for Cook to catch the ball.
''In a game like this where they are going to be geared and focused on stopping our run, then Jared (may) have some big plays,'' Fisher said.