Texans' Brandin Cooks, Jacob Martin, Pharaoh Brown stand out Saturday night

Brandin Cooks took off on a screen pass, dashing up the sideline for a touchdownSaturday nightduring a scrimmage.

The speedy Texans wide receiver's exciting score was ultimately nullified by a penalty, but he also found the end zone on a sharp lob from quarterback Tyrod Taylor for a touchdown that counted.

Cooks caught 81 passes for 1,150 yards and six touchdowns on 119 targets last season while playing with Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson, who remains on the team after requesting a trade and is also dealing with legal issues and a calf-ankle injury. 

Now, Cooks is building his chemistry with Taylor.

"Brandin has been a quality guy in this league and the guy can really run," Texans coach David Culley said. "He knows how to play. He's been a very good mentor for our young guys too and we're expecting him to continue to do the things he's doing and the things we need to be the kind of offense we need to be in the passing game."

Besides safety Lonnie Johnson Jr. intercepting a pass from quarterback Jeff Driskel and emphatically spiking the football, other standouts from the scrimmage included tight end Pharaoh Brown as he caught a touchdown over the middle.

Since being activated from the non-football injury list, Brown has made a big impression on the new coaching staff.

"That's what he does," Culley said of Brown. "He's a good player from both ends, running game and passing game. It's good to have him back. He's not all the way back because of COVID, but he's doing a nice job for us and doing what we expected him to do."

Defensive end Jacob Martin, a converted outside linebacker who had three sacks last season, had a pair of sacks as he beat offensive tackle Charlie Heck with a speed rush.

Martin has put on weight to play with his hand down in a three-point stance, but he still has a fast burst.

"Oh yeah, it's still there," Culley said. "Working hard, playing hard, doing the things he needs to do to be successful in this defense and he's doing a nice job of that. Great effort."

Culley singled out starting defensive tackle Maliek Collins for praise. In the Texans' 4-3 defense, the former Dallas Cowboys and Las Vegas Raiders starter is a pivotal piece as their three-technique defensive tackle.

"Let me tell you something, every time I see Maliek Collins my energy goes up, the way he plays the game," Culley said. "He plays the game the way every football player should play football. I'm talking about there's no quit in him. He's a heck of a guy. He's always going full speed. The one thing that I love about him that I think will carry over to everybody on the defense is he finishes every play."

Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 years and has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128

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