HOUSTON -- Pick a quarterback. Any quarterback. Think that Brandin Cooks won't be able to catch dozens of passes a game with him?
Time and time again, Cooks continues to be a go-to weapon of any NFL offense that employs him. For the Houston Texans, the wide receiver has emerged as the new No. 1 since the departure of DeAndre Hopkins.
New year, new staff, same story. Cooks remains "the guy" in the passing attack.
He might be even more needed Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers due to multiple injuries in the Houston receivers room.
“He’s been Mr. Consistent for us," Texans coach David Culley said. "He’s our guy out there that we know you can trust."
Cooks was targeted 14 times in the team's 31-21 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. He hauled in nine catches for 78 yards and found the end zone on a 3-yard pass from rookie quarterback Davis Mills.
Mills, a third round pick out of Stanford, was thrust into the starting role following an injury to veteran Tyrod Taylor.
Every rookie QB needs a security blanket. Most times, that is the slot receiver or the tight end.
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Instead, Cooks became the target to cap off Mills' best drive. A quick slant and a block from veteran receiver Chris Conley was what it took for Cooks - the five-time 1,000-yard target - to find the end zone.
"On that last touchdown, (Cooks) … told Timmy (coordinator) Kelly), “Look, this play right here I know will work," Culley said. "Just get it to me. Tell Davis exactly what we are going to do and what to do and we will get it.’ And they actually did it, and that’s the trust they have in him.”
The season is early, but Cooks continues to be a name to watch. Against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cooks recorded two 40-yard catches, setting Houston up in the red zone twice for easy points. In back-to-back weeks, he's led the team in catches and yards.
He currently ranks fifth among receivers in yards (210), 10th in catches and is averaging 15 yards per reception.
Will that be enough for Houston vs. Carolina on Thursday?
Taylor is currently day-to-day with a hamstring injury. Wide receivers Nico Collins (shoulder) and Danny Amendola (hamstring) will also be game-time decisions. The status of slot receiver Anthony Miller (shoulder) has yet to be determined as well.
Mr. Consistency might be Culley's nickname for Cooks, but that must ring true Thursday evening. After all, every young passer needs a safety net.
Cooks might be the only one active when kickoff arrives at home.
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