The New England Patriots love joint practices for myriad of reasons. The players get to face a new roster of opponents and work on fundamentals and technique. Even the coaches have to kick start their mental approach against a new slate of opposing coaches.
And head coach Bill Belichick loves to watch opposing players to see how they work in practice and to file away that information for potential trade targets. In 2015, the Patriots acquired DL Akiem Hicks from the New Orleans Saints in the middle of the season after the two teams practiced against one another in the preseason.
Wide receiver Brandin Cooks is just another player that falls in that mold and Belichick was greatly impressed by Cooks’ work ethic according to Bleacher Report’s Dan Pompei.
Belichick had been impressed with Cooks when he did his draft prep in 2014. He became more impressed watching him practice for the Saints in joint training camp sessions with the Patriots in 2015 and 2016.
After the final practice last summer, Cooks approached Belichick to show his respect.
"Hi Coach, thanks for having us at your facility," Cooks remembers telling him. "I was impressed with how organized your practices are and how there is no wasted time."
Belichick nodded and made a mental note.
"Good seeing you," Cooks said as they shook hands.
In the offseason, the Saints knew Cooks had trade value, so they listened. The Titans, Eagles and Rams made pitches, but Belichick was willing to give more than the others.
The Patriots sent a first round pick and flipped mid-rounders with the Saints to acquire the 23-year-old wide receiver. Cooks has has always been lauded for his work ethic, even as he questioned the fruits of his labor within the Saints offense under head coach Sean Payton.
Cooks is already turning heads during the Patriots practices and should be a major focal point of the New England offense in 2017 and 2018.
Patriots fans should take time to comb through the Jaguars, Texans, and Lions rosters because the odds are pretty great that one or two players from those teams will wind up in New England over the next year.