Wide receiver Brandin Cooks has carved out a pretty unique path through the NFL.
The Saints drafted him No. 20 overall back in 2014. Then the Patriots traded a 2017 first-round pick to acquire him last year. Then the Rams traded their first-round pick as part of the package to acquire him back in April.
And since the Rams are playing the Patriots for Super Bowl LIII, Cooks is going to play a former team in two straight games for two straight trophies.
Cooks was a strong deep threat for the Patriots in 2017, making 65 catches for 1,082 yards — good for a career-high average of 16.6 yards per reception. That's in large part because Cooks tied for No. 2 with seven receptions of at least 40 yards.
"I became a smarter football player — just learning from Belichick and McDaniels," Cooks said Monday of his time in New England, referring to head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. "A great place to play, enjoyed my time there. A lot of respect for everyone that's there. But there's a lot of great things that are coming out of there that I learned — too much to probably just sit here and talk about."
Now after playing for the Patriots in Super Bowl LII, Cooks will compete against the club for his second career opportunity to win a Lombardi on Feb. 3.
"I mean, the Patriots are the Patriots," Cooks said of his initial impressions of the 2018 squad. "Great team, great organization, great coaching staff, great players. They do what they do. They're a special team, so we're looking forward to going against them."
But going through the Super Bowl experience as a player is something that few of the Rams have done. So what did he learn about preparing for the big game that he can pass on?
"Just take it one day at a time. If we really believe in trusting our process, there's no need to change up any of that going into the Super Bowl," Cooks said. "Just continue to trust it, take it one day at a time, have fun, enjoy it. But at the end of the day, once you step between those white lines, it's football again."
There's also the significant increase in media attention, which is an element L.A. will have to face throughout the next couple weeks — especially on Super Bowl Opening Night next Monday in Atlanta.
"Just enjoy it. Soak it in, because it's no promise that you're going back," Cooks said. "And just in the game in general, don't try to do too much. Your routine is your routine. Don't try to change it up just because it's one of the biggest games of your life."
And Cooks made it clear that even though he suffered a concussion early in the second quarter of last year's Super Bowl, he's not thinking of this game as a chance at redemption — he doesn't believe in it, he says. Instead, he's thinking of that experience simply as one step in his ultimate journey.
"I was knocked out after whatever quarter it was, so I was pretty disappointed. I was pretty upset. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't," Cooks said. "But I think it's all a part of the process. And God doesn't make mistakes, and it's not by accident that we're going back."
Check out the best photos from the Rams' NFC Championship victory over the Saints.