Saints receiver Brandin Cooks has begin catching passes, lifting weights _lowres

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks hauls in a pass against Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam Jones during the fourth quarter Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Brandin Cooks’ rookie season is over.

In a series of roster moves, the Saints placed the wide receiver on injured reserve after suffering a broken thumb during Sunday’s 27-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The team also placed safety Rafael Bush on injured reserve with a broken fibula, waived running back Edwin Baker, and signed linebacker Moise Fokou, defensive back Terrence Frederick, and safety Pierre Warren to the 53-man roster.

The team also signed linebacker Jerry Franklin to the practice squad.

Warren was signed off Minnesota’s practice squad after spending training camp with the Saints and a brief stint on their practice squad. Frederick was previously on New Orleans’ practice squad.

A seventh-round pick in 2009 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, Fokou started 22 games over three seasons for the Eagles and recorded 112 tackles during his first three seasons.

His 2011 season ended after he suffered a sprained ankle against the Patriots during Week 12 to the Patriots. He was traded that offseason to Indianapolis, where he appeared in all 16 games, mostly as a reserve, and finished with 43 tackles. Fokou then signed with Tennessee before the 2013 season, played in 12 games and recorded 78 tackles, then was released this offseason.

The decision to place Cooks on IR comes as a bit of a surprise. While announcing the injury, his agent, Jeff Sperbeck, said the rookie was expected to miss 4-6 weeks after undergoing successful thumb surgery.

Using the pessimistic end of that timetable, Cooks, who appeared to injure his thumb fielding a fourth-quarter punt, could have missed the rest of the regular season but might have been available for the postseason, if the Saints qualify. His departure is a blow to the offense, as he ranks second on the team in both receptions (53) and yards (550) behind tight end Jimmy Graham.

With Cooks out, wide receiver Joe Morgan, who has been active for only two games because of ineffectiveness and a disciplinary issue, will likely receive the opportunity to earn more playing time. Nick Toon, who has struggled to be active this week, is behind Morgan on the depth chart.

The team will also have to find another punt returner. Cooks has handled that job this season, and his backup entering the season, safety Jairus Byrd, also is on injured reserve with a knee injury. Morgan also could figure into the mix here.

Losing Bush is also big blow for the Saints. Bush was initially supposed to serve as a reserve, but he became the starting free safety after Byrd was knocked out of action during an Oct. 2 practice. Two of New Orleans’ other safeties — Kenny Vaccaro and Marcus Ball — appear better suited to play in the box, which means Warren could immediately contend for a starting spot with Jamarca Sanford.

Sanford, who signed with the Saints last week, was active for Sunday’s loss to the Bengals and appeared on special teams. Vaccaro and Ball served as the safeties after Bush was injured with 4:53 remaining.

If the Saints do not feel comfortable with either option, it’s also possible that cornerback Corey White, who was drafted as a safety, could move back to that spot. He spent some time playing the position during training camp to prepare for an emergency situation, though the lack of depth at cornerback could make it difficult to move him from his current spot.

Franklin joins the Saints after spending time with the Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, and Kansas City Cheifs.