ST. LOUIS -- Four years into his NFL career, Rams tight end Jared Cook had never scored more than a single touchdown in a game. Until Sunday.
Given his 6-foot-5, 254-pound frame, strong hands and NBA small forward type athleticism, that statistic is somewhat jarring.
“That’s really surprising,” quarterback Sam Bradford said. “A guy with his talent, his ability, for this to be his first game with two touchdowns, that’s almost shocking. Hopefully this is the first of many multiple touchdown games for him.”
In the buildup to Sunday’s opener against Arizona, Cook may have been the newest addition to the Rams offense that fans wanted to see debut the most, aside from rookie Tavon Austin.
By the time Cook was done galloping through Arizona’s secondary, most of the 55,279 in attendance couldn’t wait to see him do it again.
After a preseason in which the Rams kept most of their new weapons under lock and key, Cook was the present that Bradford ripped open quickly and began playing with right away.
Cook finished with seven catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Cook’s single-game yardage total was the most by a Rams tight end in franchise history.
Were it not for an impressive hustle play from Arizona safety Tyrann Mathieu, you could’ve added 8 more yards and another score.
Bradford targeted Cook 10 times, completing seven, but Cook caught each of the last six passes thrown his way for 94 yards and the two scores. Cook averaged 10.1 yards after the catch.
When Bradford threw to Cook on Sunday, he averaged 14.1 yards per attempt. On his 28 other attempts, Bradford averaged 5.6 yards.
Put simply, in Cook, Bradford finally has the big, fast, matchup problem he’s been lacking since he arrived in 2010.
“Obviously, he made some huge plays for us out there today,” Bradford said. “We’ve seen him do it all training camp, so I don’t think it surprised anyone and I expect him to keep playing like that. He’s going to help us tremendously this year.”
For the past four years, there were rumors of Cook’s imminent breakout season in Tennessee. It never happened.
Cook even acknowledged earlier this week that he was looking forward to starting this new season in his new home more than any other regular season opener.
Here in the Show Me State, the seemingly hundreds of balls Cook caught through the preseason and training camp did nothing but raise hopes once again for a breakthrough.
There are 15 games to go but Cook presented his case that his time has finally come.
“That’s why he’s here,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “We’ve got an accurate passer that can find him and he can make plays with the ball. He’s outstanding.”