METAIRIE, La. — Jared Cook knows the plays.
Come Monday, the New Orleans Saints tight end wants to make some.
Cook did not travel for the one preseason game Drew Brees played in, so the season opener against the Texans will be Cook’s first game with the 12-time Pro Bowl passer.
"He's a G.O.A.T. in a lot of people’s eyes, including mine," said Cook, who missed the preseason game Brees played against the Jets because of an unspecified injury. "I watched him my whole career tear up defenses. It’s surreal I get to play with him."
The Saints signed the 32-year-old Cook as a free agent from the Oakland Raiders. His best statistical season came in 2018 with Jon Gruden as coach, when Cook posted career highs with 68 receptions for 896 yards and six touchdowns.
Last season, Saints tight ends combined for 63 receptions for 735 yards and four touchdowns.
Cook is eager to begin the season. He missed the last two weeks of preseason practices with the injury. Teams are not required to issue an injury report until the regular season. Cook did not appear on either injury report issued Thursday or Friday, indicating his full health.
“It’s been a little frustrating,” he said about the preseason injury. “I’m glad we took our time with what we had going on to make sure everything was right so I could get out there and do what I have to do.”
He also is eager to keep working with his quarterback.
“You can never have enough connection with your quarterback,” Cook said. “Me being the new guy here, I feel like that’s something that’s constantly working to improve.”
The Houston Texans are familiar with Cook from having seen him with the Raiders. Coach Bill O’Brien described Cook as a versatile player who runs routes well and can block.
“That'll be something that we'll have to (account for when we) go into the game,” O’Brien said.
With the Saints, Cook will be one of several options on offense. How he’ll fit in the game plan with the ultra-productive Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara remains to be seen.
Cook and Brees appeared to have a good connection in training camp, with Brees completing several long passes to Cook in practices.
“I’m very excited about him,” Brees said. “And the element that he brings to the offense and just the complement with the other guys that we have as well.”