Published September 20, 2013
ST. LOUIS – Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams showed last week that tight end Jared Cook is one of many options in their passing game.
They're hoping their depth at wide receiver continues to pay off Sunday at Dallas.
With Cook drawing increased attention, Bradford threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns in Sunday's 31-24 loss at Atlanta. It was Bradford's eighth career 300-yard game and the second highest single-game total of his career.
Bradford was 12 for 21 for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone, but Cook was not a factor.
Rookie receiver Tavon Austin caught two scoring passes, and the Rams also got productive days from Chris Givens and Austin Pettis in the comeback effort.
In the season opener against Arizona, Cook caught seven passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns. He faced some double teams against Atlanta and managed just one reception for 10 yards.
So Bradford looked elsewhere, helping the Rams rally from a 24-3 halftime deficit.
Pettis grabbed a career-high eight passes for 78 yards. His seventh reception resulted in a 3-yard touchdown that made it a one-score game with just under 12 minutes to play.
"I got involved in the offense a little bit more I think after our first game," Pettis said Thursday after practice. "It's always fun to get into the end zone. They game-planned toward Cook and left some of the rest of us open."
Austin finished with six catches for 47 yards, including a 10-yard TD reception with 2:09 to play. The speedy Givens had five catches for 105 yards, including one for 47 yards. Second-year running back Daryl Richardson had five receptions.
Seeing so many other receivers step up pleased Bradford. He knows he doesn't have to depend on one target.
"Absolutely. I think that's the beauty of this offense and the guys that we have in the system now, is the fact that if people want to focus on one guy, one receiver, it's going to make it tough to cover everyone else," Bradford said. "They can only double so many players out there. I think that when they do that, we've gotten a lot of favorable matchups, and it gives other guys the opportunity to step up and make plays and guys did last week."
The Rams (1-1) want to keep Cook involved despite being heavily covered. The offense needs the 6-foot-5 tight end to get open. His speed and ability to go up and grab a ball are among his biggest assets.
Bradford believes the offense can do that. He has confidence in offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to come up with something for Cook to help spring him.
"Just because people want to double him or focus on him, we've still got to find a way to get him the ball and allow him to create plays once the ball gets to him because hes too good of a player not to get his touches during a game," Bradford said.
After the success Cook had in the first game, Schottenheimer said he knew Atlanta would try to shut him down. He expects the same thing this week.
The way to get Cook involved against the Cowboys, Schottenheimer said, will be to move him around and put him in motion. If not, there are other options for Bradford.
"We have a bunch of guys who are selfless," Schottenheimer said. "They want to move the ball and make plays and they don't care who gets the credit."