Much has been made about just how many different ways the St. Louis Rams plan to use the versatile rookie Tavon Austin during the upcoming season. Obviously his elite speed and game-changing ability make him a flashy guy with loads of highlight reel potential heading into the 2013 NFL season. Even though Austin has gotten the majority of the ink this offseason, there is another new weapon in the Rams locker room heading into this season.
Tight end Jared Cook was used more like a wide receiver with the Tennessee Titans which is why he contended that the team’s threats to use the franchise tag on him earlier in the offseason should have come at the wide receiver price. Tennessee’s threats eventually rang hollow as they realized that Cook had a legit beef with the tag number as a tight end ($6.066 million) versus the wide receiver sum ($10.537 million).
Now that the playmaker is on the Rams roster in 2013, St. Louis has plans to utilize Cook in a number of different ways. Head coach Jeff Fisher recently told the Tennessean:
“He’s obviously got years of experience under his belt, he understands the league, he understands defenses and he’s picked things up really well. We’re excited about creating mismatches, and offensive success these days is about creating mismatches. He’s going to play all over the place. We’ve even got him in the backfield, so we’ve got some good things for him.”
Fisher knows Cook from his days with the Titans as he was the man in charge when the franchise selected him in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft out of South Carolina. There was a slight learning curve for the 6’5” 248lbs. mismatch maker, but his last two years have been fantastic with a combined 93 catches on 154 targets. Even though he has yet to record any rushing statistics, perhaps Fisher wasn’t blowing smoke when he said Cook would line up in the backfield. The Rams are using a running back by committee approach this season, and one more guy to help shoulder the load couldn’t hurt.
After putting up just 299 points in 16 games a year ago, the Rams appear poised to have an offensive explosion of sorts in the coming season. Cook will play a huge role in that with his ability to put defenses in a bind when it comes to covering all of the weapons on the field at any given time. Whether he lines up as a traditional tight end, split out wide, or in the backfield, there’s no doubt opposing defenses will have to account for where no. 89 is out on the field at all times.