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Brady-to-Cooks combo a work in progress
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Post Posted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:17 am

HOUSTON — Tom Brady made quick use of his explosive new target Saturday night in his preseason debut.
Brady, playing in his first game as a 40-year-old, completed his first pass of the game to wide receiver Brandin Cooks for a 7-yard gain. Cooks had 31 connections with Brady during training camp, which was third most on the team, but this was their first chance to hook up in a slightly more intense environment since the Patriots acquired Cooks in an offseason trade with the New Orleans Saints.
And while Brady figures to find a groove with the speedy Cooks on plenty of deep balls, the quick out route against the Houston Texans was an example that the 23-year-old receiver is much more than a one-trick pony.
The pair hooked up to beat cornerback Kevin Johnson for the gain, which also marked a difference from the 2016 season when the Texans’ top corner, A.J. Bouye, was able to essentially take away that side of the field. It was especially true in the playoff meeting between the Patriots and Texans.
Bouye left in free agency for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Johnson, the Texans’ first-round pick in 2016, is back from an injury that ended his rookie season. Johnson is expected to be the Texans’ best cornerback this season.
Brady looked like himself in his short outing against the Texans, though his offensive line struggled against a sturdy defensive front. He had to throw away a pass on his initial drop back because of quick pressure.
After Cooks’ catch set up third-and-3, Brady recognized James White was isolated against safety Eddie Pleasant in the left flat and quickly dumped the ball off. White’s stutter step was enough to create space for a 4-yard gain and a first down. Similar to the last time the Patriots played at NRG Stadium, where they beat the Falcons in the Super Bowl, Brady went to White when it counted.
But the offensive line was the culprit for a scoreless opening drive. Center David Andrews got blown up by J.J. Watt, who stopped Rex Burkhead for a 2-yard loss on second-and-2. Brady then felt a closing pocket on both sides and tried to fit the ball into a tight window to Julian Edelman along the right sideline, but Edelman’s diving bid wasn’t enough to make the catch.
Brady’s second series got off to an J.J. Jansen Kids Jersey ominous start when he underthrew a long pass down the right sideline to wide receiver Chris Hogan. Safety Andre Hal was initially awarded an interception, but the ruling was overturned because Hal only got one foot down inbounds.

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