Rams' Cooks, Talib recall time with Patriots
ATLANTA -- After reaching Super Bowl LII with the New England Patriots in his only year with the team, wideout Brandin Cooks is back in the big game, this time with the Los Angeles Rams and opposing New England. Cooks acknowledged that facing the team that traded him -- with a sixth-rounder for first- and fourth-round picks -- adds some "fuel to the fire," but he doesn't harbor any ill will toward the Patriots.
"There's not one negative thing that I can say coming out of there," Cooks said of his old team Monday, from his podium at Super Bowl Media Night. "...[Getting traded was] unfortunate, but at the same time, I'm beyond blessed. [Patriots coach Bill Belichick] sent me somewhere that's so special. All I can do is be thankful for that fact." Cooks had his first Super Bowl appearance cut short when he was concussed early in the second quarter, at the end of a 23-yard catch. That was Cooks' only grab of the game in the Patriots' loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
This time around, he hopes to make more of the opportunity. "It's special being back here," Cooks said. "...Just to be back here ain't enough. Now it's time to go out there and do what we have to do."
On Sunday, Cooks could see a familiar face opposite him. While the Patriots shuffled their cornerback group last offseason, Stephon Gilmore remains, and he's coming off of a first-team All-Pro selection, the first of his career. Cooks said he isn't sure if the Patriots will put Gilmore on him, but if so, he expects a competitive back-and-forth between the two.
"Just going against him in practice, a physical guy," Cooks said, adding he thinks Gilmore has played at an All-Pro level for years. "Very smart player as well. Just plays the game at such a high level. Loved the battles between him and I at practice." Elsewhere at media night, another former Patriot on the Rams' roster recalled his first experience in Foxborough, when he got to work with New England's quarterback.
Sharing the stage together with the Lombardi Trophy positioned between them, Tom Brady and Aqib Talib detailed one of the first interactions they had after the Patriots acquired Talib from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012. "The day we got him, I remember Coach Belichick brought him over to see if he could play receiver, after practice," Brady began.
"He got me all excited," a smiling Talib chimed in. "I thought I was gonna have a receiver package. Tom was throwing me passes. So I could really say I caught passes from Tom Brady." Talib never wound up catching a pass from Brady in a game, but not for a lack of ability, if you ask Brady.
"He could have been as good of a receiver as he is a corner," Brady said. "Great athlete." "Thank you, Tom," Talib said with a laugh. "I appreciate that."
--Field Level Media