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Cookin’ In Houston: Texans Star WR Brandin Cooks Ready For Stronger Season

With an extension signed, Brandin Cooks is ready to build off late success in Houston from 2021

HOUSTON -- There are two things to know about Houston Texans receiver Brandin Cooks; he means what he says, and he is never satisfied. 

Since his arrival in Houston, the Texans have won eight games, so instead of going away on vacation and spending time with his soon-to-be 2-year-old son, Maverik, Cooks is here at voluntary OTAs. It's not simply because he's playing for a new contract, nor is it because he's trying to set the tone for the rookies. 

Those are factors, but not the main reasons. Cooks is in Houston to build off what was being created late in the season. It's why he wanted to be a Texan for the foreseeable future. 

"We believe in what this organization is trying to get done and what GM Nick [Caserio] and coach Lovie [Smith] are building," Cooks said Tuesday while also playing the role of Dad with youngster in tow. "It's definitely a blessing and I'm glad we can put that behind us and get back to work." 

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Cooks agreed to terms prior to April's draft on a two-year extension worth $39.6 million, keeping him in Houston through the 2024 season. Despite trade rumors circulating, Caserio wasn't interested in letting a six-time 1,000-yard receiver play elsewhere. 

Cooks felt the same way. Even with the Texans turmoil during his two seasons here, he remained a constant bright spot, first with Pro Bowler Deshaun Watson and later Davis Mills

That too played a factor into him returning to practice early. Cooks said that more live throws in the early stages of the offseason lead to more promising results once training camp begins. Mills will have the chance to prove that he can be the starter past 2022, but he'll need a productive season to earn Smith's and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton's trust. 

Players, though, are buying into what Mills is showing in practice with Cooks being one at the forefront of the "Mills Mafia."

"He's not that rookie anymore," Cooks said. "He comes in and he knows that's his huddle. That's what you're looking for in your quarterback and he's doing that." 

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Mills finished second among all rookie quarterbacks in near every statistical category while also setting the franchise rookie record in passing yards with 2,664. Cooks was on the end of nearly half of that production, recording 1,037 receiving yards. 

One area Mills and the Texans in general will need to see improvements is targets to the right guys. Cooks led the team with 90 receptions off 134 targeted throws. Second-year receiver Nico Collins came in second with 60 targets and only 33 catches. 

Some of the ups and downs we’re about familiarity with the offense and personnel. Last year, Houston signed 33 total players to its 90-man roster, most of which were on one-year deals. This offseason, the Texans brought back 19 players from a 4-13 season. 

"We might have a new head coach, (but) these guys have been around," Cooks said of the revised coaching staff. "That makes things a lot easier." 

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There's consistency in Houston for the first time in three seasons. There also is a bit more urgency on both sides of the ball. Of its current 90-man roster, 95 percent of Houston's players were suited up for practice.

Smith noticed it the second he arrived in Houston. No matter the circumstances, there is little change to Cooks' demeanor both on the field and in the locker room. 

Others are starting to take notice and follow his example. 

"He does it the right way," Smith said. "He reps our organization on and off the field the way that you want him too. It says a lot. It doesn't surprise me [that he's here] because that's who he's been all his life."