HOUSTON -- Houston Texans head coach David Culley nicknamed wide receiver Brandin Cooks "Mr. Consistency" after a Week 2 loss to the Cleveland Browns. The reason? He's the one target always open.
Once again, the Texans passing attack struggled against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football. Rookie quarterback Davis Mills was under duress with inconsistent pass protection. The run game was limited and Houston didn't have much at the wide receiver position.
They still had Cooks, who once again lived up to his nickname.
Cooks recorded nine catches for 112 yards in Houston's 24-9 loss to Carolina at NRG Stadium. Of Mills' 28 total passes, 11 went in the veteran's direction.
If fans can take anything away from a poor outing on a short week, it's that once again Cooks will be the security blanket for whoever takes snaps. Mills hasn't spent much time working with names like Anthony Miller or Jordan Akins.
He spent time with Cooks this week while working with the first-team offense. It showed as the two were in sync working downfield.
During the closing minutes of the second quarter, Mills connected with Cooks on a 30-yard catch that would put Houston inside Carolina territory. The two would team up again for a gain of 11, placing the Texans at the Panthers' 1-yard line.
Mills would connect with Miller for the 1-yard score on the next play, putting Houston down by one following a missed field goal.
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Six of Cooks' receptions came on plays longer than 10 yards. He averaged 13 yards per reception and was left wide open despite Carolina's defense shifting his direction. Houston's next leading receiver was Akins.
He averaged a mere 7.5 yards per catch.
Cooks has played with four teams since being drafted out of Oregon State. On all four rosters, he's finished with at least one season of over 1,000 yards.
On Friday, he'll lead the NFL with 23 total catches for 322 receiving yards and a touchdown through three games. Texans fans will know that record could be broken by Sunday evening, but at least they’ll have something to hold onto to get them to the weekend.
The Texans will be without veteran QB Tyrod Taylor for at least two more game following Houston placing him on the injured reserve list. Mills will return to the starting lineup for games against the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots.
Both AFC East franchises look to be contenders for the postseason. Houston’s direction remains unknown.
Mills' first start had ups and downs. Imagine how things would have panned out without Cooks as the go-to guy?
It's the one positive from Houston's 1-2 start to begin the new season.