Brandin Cooks is looking to become a ‘dominant player’ in his second season _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks breaks into the open after catching a pass from quarterback Luke McCown during practice Wednesday in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Brandin Cooks scoffed a little bit. His frustration was obvious. Someone had just called him a “smaller receiver” and he didn’t like it.

He obviously disagreed. At 5-foot-10, the label doesn’t seem unfair. But Cooks doesn’t believe anything is small about his game. He does everything he’s supposed to do on the field. Why should his height be an issue?

“It’s one of those things that they say, ‘He’s not your prototype receiver,’ ” Cooks said. “But what is your prototype of a person who can catch the ball, run good routes, has speed? I guess the tall part is the part that I’m missing. But I feel like I’m doing those other things at a high level.”

Actually, Cooks believes his height is an advantage.

“I use my speed, my quickness, using the way I move to change direction and get those bigger corners on their heels,” Cooks said. “Whatever the case may be, I’m using my height as an advantage, not a disadvantage.”

Cooks’ size was a disadvantage last year when he needed to gain yards after the catch. One of his chief goals this offseason was to find ways to improve upon the 3.2 after-the-catch yards he averaged last season.

One way of going about that was strengthening his lower half. The other part was improving in the mental aspects of the game.

“Knowing what type of defense they’re in, where you need to hit that hole,” Cooks said. “It’s situations like that. It’s more of an intelligence thing.”

Safety dance

Friday’s Black & Gold scrimmage will be the first chance for the Saints to get into a gamelike situation.

But the team, which is managing a spate of minor injuries, is not going to knock itself silly.

“We are not bringing players to the ground or diving,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “We are practicing tomorrow much like you are seeing right now, which is a ‘full-go thud,’ is what we call it. That’s being smart.”

New Orleans will send the No. 1 unit against the No. 2s, pit the No. 3s against the No. 3s and then finish up the scrimmage by sending the starters against each other.

“We’ll create more of a gamelike situation down-and-distance-wise, where it’s not just scripted,” Payton said. “We’ll have to deal with substitution, down and distance. That will be the big change.”

Roster moves

The Saints waived defensive end Glenn Foster with a failed physical designation and signed cornerback Travis Manning.

Foster landed on injured reserve last season after injuring his knee against the Detroit Lions in Week 7. He was placed on the physically unable to perform list before training camp and spent the past week rehabbing off to the side.

Manning was one of three cornerbacks who worked out for the Saints on Thursday. His signing comes as rookies P.J. Williams and Damian Swann battle injuries. Keenan Lewis also recently suffered an injury but took part in Thursday’s walkthrough.

Manning (6-foot-0) played safety during his first three years at Northwest Missouri. He converted to cornerback last season and finished with 32 tackles, 10 pass breakups and one interception. He had seven interceptions over three seasons at safety.

Parting shots

Five observations from the practice field:

1. Seantavius Jones caught two touchdown passes in the red zone in Brandon Coleman’s absence, but his issues with drops continue.

2. Jones was also involved in the first skirmish of training camp, a quick affair against reserve cornerback Brian Dixon that was broken up quickly.

3. Rookie Andrus Peat worked with the first team at left tackle and held up well, save for a holding penalty incurred for a grab of Kevin Williams.

4. Hau’oli Kikaha might be playing outside linebacker for the first time, but he’s held up well dropping into zones in pass coverage.

5. Dixon struggled in the red zone setting, drawing two pass interference flags on plays where he was beat soundly by the receiver.