St. Louis served as the guinea pig on Friday night for the preseason debut of the NFC's most exciting rookie pass-catcher.
Cooks hit the scene in the second quarter and saw action all over the formation, lining up inside and out and showing the versatility that makes him an ideal candidate to make up for the loss of X-factor Darren Sproles. The rookie saw a team-high eight targets and freaked out St. Louis with his moves on a 25-yard touchdown catch-and-go that left Rams defenders Lamarcus Joyner and E.J. Gaines chasing ghosts.
"Honestly, (quarterback Ryan) Griffin just threw a great ball," Cooks said, per The Times-Picayune. "It was an out route, and he did a great job of putting it on the right shoulder for me to be able to make a move real quick and get up under it."
Cooks showed some jitters out of the gate and was held in check as a return man. But he rebounded to show his speed on a 17-yard crossing pattern from Griffin before striking gold with the touchdown.
"He's quick with the ball in his hands," Payton said. "I thought he played hard, he's smart, gets lined up very quickly. We'll keep bringing him along. There's a lot of things he needs to work on still."
Payton believes Cooks has just scratched the surface, a notion that should generate plenty of sleepless nights for the rest of the NFC South.