Brandin Cooks took a viscous hit from Malcolm Jenkins with a little over 13 minutes left in the second quarter of the Super Bowl. ESPN’s Mike Reiss reported Cooks will not return in the Super Bowl after sustaining a head injury, which is a huge blow for the Patriots.
Cooks was blindsided by Jenkins on a 20-yard reception. While Jenkins mostly hit Cooks with his shoulder, he also clipped Cooks’ helmet with his own helmet. There was no flag on the play.
Cooks laid on the field for a few minutes, before being taken back to the locker room for tests. Given Cooks was hit in the head, he likely underwent concussion tests, and would have needed to be cleared (i.e. not have suffered a concussion) in order to play again in the Super Bowl.
The Patriots went through a similar situation in the AFC Championship with Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots tight end was also held out the rest of the game against the Jaguars, but was cleared to play in the Super Bowl. New England was already short-handed at wide receiver as Julian Edelman sustained a season-ending injury during the pre-season.
NBC’s Michele Tafoya confirmed Cooks will not return in the game, but also noted the Patriots are calling what Cooks suffered a “head injury” stopping short of labeling it a concussion.
New England traded the No. 32 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft to New Orleans in exchange for Cooks over the off-season. Cooks was expected to battle Edelman as the Patriots top wideout, and now New England is without both receivers for the Super Bowl.
Cooks had 65 receptions for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Patriots coach Bill Belichick spoke highly of Cooks in an interview with NFL.com.
“Nobody works harder than Brandin,” Belichick told NFL.com. “He has the speed and acceleration to create mismatches and does everything well, from slants, outs and deep passes. He’s been a good player for us.”
Earlier this season, Cooks noted he wanted to finish his career with the Patriots. With Cooks on the sideline, fans can expect a heavy dose of Danny Ammendola and Chris Hogan. The Patriots could also rely more on their bevy of running backs including Dion Lewis and James White.
Just like the past two Super Bowls, the Patriots got off to a slow start, and found themselves down double digits. Patriots fans are hoping New England has another comeback in them. The Patriots have a history of comebacks in the postseason. New England needed a fourth quarter comeback against the Jaguars in AFC Championship just to reach the Super Bowl. The Patriots were down 28-3 in last year’s Super Bowl against the Falcons. Tom Brady led the Patriots back to force overtime, and New England pulled off the victory to win their fifth Super Bowl in franchise history.