Texans practice report: Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins return to practice

Texans veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks rejoined his teammates at practice Wednesday morning after missing a loss to the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles last Thursday for personal reasons.

The Texans also got starting wide receiver Nico Collins and starting defensive tackle Maliek Collins back from injuries that sidelined them the past two games.

Cooks became emotional at the NFL trade deadline due to his displeasure when it expired with no trade after the Texans held discussions with multiple teams with no deal reached primarily due to their asking price -- a second-round draft pick and a fourth-round selection, per league sources -- and his $18 million fully guaranteed 2023 salary.

Cooks participated in the stretching portion of practice, but didn't participate in drills during the portion open to reporters as he was riding a stationary bike. Cooks normally has Wednesday as a veteran rest day, as does starting defensive end Jerry Hughes.

Cooks has been welcomed back by his teammates after the dispute with the organization.

“He’s our leader in our receiver room," wide receiver Chris Moore said. "It’s very important. We love him. He’s a great player, he’s a great leader, he’s a great man. When all that stuff happened, we all know or at least most of us because we’ve all been here a while, that’s just part of the business. You never know really what’s going to happen and either way we’re happy to have him back and see him in the building.”

 Now that Cooks is back with the team, there's a matter of next steps for him and the organization.

What that means for Cooks and the Texans going forward is figuring out how he fits into the game plan after a reduced role during the first eight games of the season for a 1-6-1 squad. Resolving the situation, as far as working out a potential trade to a contender, which nearly happened at the NFL trade deadline, is now a priority for the offseason agenda.

The Texans played without Cooks and Collins, their top two wide receivers, during a 29-17 loss to the Eagles as quarterback Davis Mills passed for 154 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions with Phillip Dorsett and Moore operating as the primary receivers.

Cooks leads the Texans with 32 receptions for 354 yards and one touchdown on 53 targets, considerably less involvement than a year ago when he caught 90 passes for 1,037 yards and six touchdowns on 134 targets. He has a long reception of 44 yards, an average of 50.6 yards per game, a catch percentage of 60.4 percent and an average of 6.7 yards per target.

“That’s what we’ve been trying to do throughout," Texans coach Lovie Smith said Monday. "We’ve been trying to win every game throughout. Our best players, we’ve been trying to get them the ball, gameplan-wise as best we can. To let their talent show all within a team concept. 

"We missed Brandin the last game we played, like we missed Nico the last game. We missed Maliek Collins. We missed a lot of those guys and can’t wait to get them back. We need everyone. Can’t wait to be them back as soon as possible and see what we can do then.”'

Cooks is on pace for 68 receptions for 809 yards for the season. He had two 1,000-yard seasons since joining the Texans in a trade from the Los Angeles Rams in 2020.

When Cooks gets his touches, he's capable of making a significant impact.

“A lot, he’s one of our biggest playmakers, if not the biggest," offensive guard A.J. Cann said. "When B gets the ball in his hands, anything can happen. We miss him out there. That’s somebody that we’re excited to have back in this offensive unit.”

The Texans held discussions and drew inquiries from multiple teams, including the Dallas Cowboys late in the process, per a league source.

To trade Cooks, the Texans would likely have had to take on some of his 2023 salary to get the deal done, or Cooks would have had to restructure his contract.

"Don’t take a man’s kindness for granted," Cooks wrote last week on his verified Twitter account." Covered for the lies for too long those days are done. Crossed the line with playing with my career "

Ultimately, no deal could be worked out as it was an extremely complicated situation.

Cooks drew trade inquiries and interest from several teams, including the Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs and Cowboys, according to league sources.

Cooks signed a two-year, $39.6 million contract extension in April that includes $36 million guaranteed.

"Absolutely, exactly, that's our teammate, that's my brother," offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil said. "I'm always going to love Brandin Cooks. So, open arms all day. That's my guy."

Cooks, who signed a two-year, $39.6 million contract extension in April that includes $36 million guaranteed, is with the 1-6-1 Texans for at least the remainder of the season.

This has become an increasingly awkward situation as Cooks liked several social media posts recently involving him and trade speculation. Ideally, Cooks wants to play for a contending team and have a major role. The Texans made a good-faith effort to try to trade him, but it didn't work out.

"We support him no matter what," Cann said. "People forget in this game that we're human, that we have personal issues. We're going to hold it down for him. We'll be happy to welcome him back with open arms this week."

Collins, who has recorded 12 tackles, two for losses and three quarterback hits, has recovered from a chest-rib injury. 

He's a key figure in the Texans' defense as a disruptive three-technique defensive lineman.

Collins had 2 1/2 sacks and nine tackles for losses last season and has 17 career sacks and 31 tackles for losses.

Nico Collins, who has caught 18 passes for 305 yards, is coming back from a groin injury. Both players got hurt against the Las Vegas Raiders and missed losses to the Eagles and Tennessee Titans.

Smith expressed optimism both could return for a road game against the resurgent New York Giants.

“I’m hoping," Smith said Monday. "We talk about how good the Giants are, rightfully so, we need all hands on deck. They’re getting better. They are right on schedule and have made a lot of progress."

Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790.

Los Angeles Chargers v Houston Texans

Photo: Getty Images

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content