Saints' Cooks "laughs" at notion he disrupted the offense

METAIRIE, La. (AP) Saints receiver Brandin Cooks sees no connection between his readiness to speak up when he was unhappy last week and the out-of-sync performance of the offense the following game.

''I laugh when I hear some stuff like that because that wasn't the case at all,'' Cooks said after practice Thursday as the Saints prepared to play at Tampa Bay this Sunday.

New Orleans' lack of rhythm on offense last weekend against Detroit begged the question whether there was a carry-over effect from the dissatisfaction Cooks expressed after not having a single pass thrown to him during a lopsided Week 12 triumph over Los Angeles .

But Cooks had other explanations for the Saints' struggles, and his teammates tended to agree with him.

''We weren't able to get our run game going, and when our run game is going is when our offense gets lethal,'' Cooks said. ''I don't feel I disrupted (the offense) at all because if it was the other way around and I had a huge game and we won, then what are people going to say?''

Cooks had nine passes thrown to him against Detroit, more than any other of Drew Brees' targets in that game. He caught seven for 73 yards, but New Orleans struggled to sustain drives and score points, largely because of a lack of execution on third downs and because three possessions ended with interceptions.

Brees threw seven passes to tight end Coby Fleener, six to wide receiver Willie Snead and five to rookie wideout Michael Thomas, who currently leads the club in catches (69), yards (831) and touchdowns receiving (seven). Brees also threw 12 passes to running backs.

''Everyone had targets that game. It was not like all the balls went to me,'' said Cooks, a 2014 first-round draft choice who has 58 catches for 809 yards and six TDs this season. ''For the most part, guys were averaging their target ratio.''

Brees didn't necessarily take issue with the general premise that the appearance of disharmony on a team can sometimes undermine performance.

''That might happen other places,'' Brees said, but stressed, ''I do not feel like that happens here.

''I know there were some issues last week, but we dealt with that stuff very quickly and efficiently,'' Brees continued. ''There was nothing lingering from that.''

Snead echoed Cooks' and Brees' sentiments.

''I'm in the room with the guy and I watch the film and see the stuff we did wrong and what we could have done better,'' Snead said. ''If we win the game, Cooks gets his targets, there's no story. But because we lost like that and the timing was off with the offense, it makes it look like that's the way it is.

''We were just in a lot of bad situations, and when we were throwing the ball, it was going to Cooks, and there's nothing wrong with that,'' Snead said. ''That's not the reason we lost. On offense, we just weren't hitting our stride like we usually do. I don't think it has anything to do with him.''

Cooks pointed out that even before the Lions game, coach Sean Payton told the offense that it had demonstrated a tendency to see considerable drop-offs in production in the weeks immediately following some prolific games. In Week 1, the Saints had 507 total yards, followed by 288 in Week 2. In Week 3, the Saints gained 475 yards, only to see that drop to 275 in Week 4. In Week 9, the Saints gained 571 yards, followed by 373 in Week 10. Now it has happened again, with the Saints putting up 555 yards in Week 12, followed by 369 in Week 13.

''We've just got to a find a way to be consistent when we do have those big games,'' Cooks said.

As for whether Cooks wishes he'd handled his dissatisfaction differently, the receiver said, ''I don't regret anything. Life is about lessons.''

NOTES: The Saints had six people sit out practice on Thursday: LT Terron Armsetad (quadriceps, knee), RB Mark Ingram (toe, knee), C Max Unger (foot), Thomas (foot), LB Craig Robertson (shoulder), TE Josh Hill (fibula).

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