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Cooks: '17 Patriots 'on a mission'

By almost any measure, the Patriots haven't let up since winning Super Bowl LI in February. If anything, the reigning champions appear to be a stronger club overall heading into the 2017 season, thanks to an unusually aggressive approach to the veteran free agent signing and trading period.

High-profile additions like wide receiver Brandin Cooks, cornerback Stephon Gilmore, defensive end Kony Ealy, and tight end Dwayne Allen headline the barnstorming nature of New England's 2017 teambuilding period. Even Cooks acknowledged as much.

"We're on a mission. Whatever mission that may be, I don't know," he quickly added, "but we're on a mission. That's what it seems like."

Speaking to a general gathering of reporters at Gillette Stadium Tuesday, the newcomer to New England's pass-catching stable was reluctant to elaborate on just how dynamic this Patriots team might be come September.

"Nope. Focused on the moment," he asserted. "That's what it's all about here."

And with good reason. Just two months into his New England career, Cooks still has plenty of catching up to do before he can attempt to catch passes out on the field this spring and summer in preparation for the regular season. Furthermore, history has shown that not all big-name receivers can come to Foxborough and find success.

"I'm not really aware of that. I know of the ones that thrived here. As far as the ones that did not, I don't pay attention to it," maintained Cooks, whom the New Orleans Saints made their top pick in the 2014 draft (20th overall).

New England traded its first-round pick (32 overall) in last month's NFL Draft to acquire the fourth-year veteran from the Saints back in March. Ever since, Cooks, a West Coast native, has been getting acclimatized to New England's mercurial weather and burying his nose in its voluminous playbook.

In addition, he's been analyzing last season's Patriots game film to get a holistic grasp of this complex system, while getting as much quality time as possible on the field with his three new quarterbacks – Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Jacoby Brissett.

"I have no clue where I'll be put [in the offense]," Cooks reasoned, "so, the best thing for me is to know everything. Every opportunity I get to study the playbook, I do. I'm out here by myself, so, I have nothing else to do but think football and study the playbook, so I can catch up to the guys that have been here and I'm not lagging behind."

Cooks declared that he's been most impressed with the attention to detail and focus exhibited by Brady and the Patriots coaching staff, as well as the work ethic and play-making ability of fellow wideout Julian Edelman. He emphasized how much he's eagerly anticipating stepping on the field in meaningful competition with his new teammates.

In the meantime, Cooks shared his impressions of life as a Patriot over the past two months, which he described as "going so fast right now."

"Right away, I love it. I love the way they run things here. It's a blessing to be a part of this organization. I'm excited to join a group like this, to come here and do my job, whatever I have to do to help this receiving corps be better and help the offense, that's what it's all about.

"A little cold coming from New Orleans," he joked, "but I love it. Great atmosphere. Going into the city is amazing. I live in Oregon now during the offseason, so, I'm used to a little bit of cold, rainy days, but out here… it just seems like the sports history here is amazing."

When he eventually adds to that history, Cooks will suit up in jersey No. 14 for New England, eschewing the 10 he wore in New Orleans.

"New journey, a new opportunity, so, I wanted something different," he explained.

Cooks will turn 24 in September, a week after the Patriots travel to New Orleans to face his former club, but that, he promised, is the furthest thing from his mind today.

"It's exciting, but it's going to be another game. I won't treat it any differently," he proclaimed. "It's not like I put an X on the calendar for that game… Once Week 2 comes, I'll be focused on it."

Until then, Cooks' personal mission is simply to show up for work every day, be himself, and do what's asked of him.

"I'm pretty sure that will be enough," he predicted with a smile. "I guess we're going to have to find out when the season comes." 

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