AT THE 2014 NFL combine, Brandin Cooks ran the fastest time in the 40-yard dash (4.33 seconds), leading the Saints to select the wide receiver from Oregon State with the 20th pick in the draft. Once the season started, Cooks had no problem keeping pace with the expectations created by his combine breakout. Through 10 games he had seven touchdowns and 550 yards on 53 receptions. But in that 10th game, a 27--10 loss to the Bengals, Cooks broke his right thumb, ending his season. As he sat out those final weeks, he hatched a plan for 2015: Get even faster.
This is an article from the June 29, 2015 issue
"My type of game is being explosive and fast," says Cooks, and more of the same could only help. A native of Stockton, Calif., he spent the off-season training in San Diego. The work included sled pushes, sled pulls, tire flips, box jumps and squats. "Anything that has to do with using the full body to explode," Cooks says.
He supplemented those common speed-building exercises with a personal favorite. "I usually go to the beach just to get a different surface to plant on," says Cooks. "That's my little getaway workout that I do a couple of times a week to take impact off the body but at the same time get a good run in."
The low-stress alternative is important because, at 5'10" and 189 pounds, the undersized Cooks is particularly focused on longevity and recovery. He regularly takes days off and spends time in a hyperbaric chamber, a device that proponents say allows the blood to carry more oxygen, which can speed recovery. "I usually get in there every night," says Cooks. "After practice or after a game, I just sleep in there for a couple of hours to rejuvenate the body."
Cooks's efforts seem to be paying off. During the Saints' June 16--18 minicamp The Times-Picayune called Cooks "the best player not named Brees," referring to the Saints' QB. With two of last season's biggest offensive weapons—tight end Jimmy Graham and receiver Kenny Stills—now playing elsewhere, Cooks will have plenty of opportunities to show the world how fast he can go.
Warm up with a light jog. Then, on a track or grass, walk a series of 200-meter distances, focusing on mechanics and slowly increasing speed until reaching a sprint.
1. To start, pop one thigh forward as hard and fast as possible.
2. Keep the opposite foot as low to the ground as possible as it extends back.
3. Push aggressively off the first foot and pop the other thigh forward. Repeat until you feel comfortable, then increase intensity.
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