HOUSTON (AP)Houston coach Lovie Smith spent most of his postgame news conference after his team lost to the Philadelphia Eagles fielding questions about a player who wasn’t on the field.
Smith was peppered with questions about the status of veteran receiver Brandin Cooks after he was inactive two days he wasn’t traded following days of speculation that he would be dealt.
Cooks didn’t play in a 29-17 loss to the Eagles on Thursday night that left the lowly Texans (1-6-1) with just one win this season after he didn’t practice all week for what Smith called personal reasons.
”I told you last week he was excused for personal reasons,” Smith said. ”Part of the personal reasons were some things that were going on. I made a coach’s decision and didn’t think that he was ready to play. If you don’t practice during the week, I don’t think you’re ready to play in the game.”
Smith said that he expected Cooks, who leads the team with 354 yards receiving, to be back with the team Friday.
”He’s going to be in the building (Friday),” Smith said. ”He’ll be back on the team, ready to go.”
When further questioned about Cook’s status with the team and whether he would remain a captain, Smith got annoyed.
”You know what, guys, I think we’ve talked enough about that,” Smith said. ”Brandin didn’t play, OK? If you want to talk about the game, we can do that. We have two captains each game. Today, (Laremy) Tunsil was our captain, and I thought he represented the team well.”
The drama with Cooks has just added to another miserable season for the Texans who, along with the Lions, are the only NFL teams with just one win.
It’s unclear how big of a role Cooks will play when he returns to the team, but one player said he wants him back.
”People forget that we’re human, and we have personal issues,” offensive lineman A.J. Cann said. ”We’re holding it down for him, and we’ll be ready to welcome him back with open arms this week.”
The Texans were without their top two receivers with Cooks inactive and Nico Collins missing a second straight game with a groin injury. Davis Mills threw for 154 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions as he continues to struggle in his second NFL season.
A bright spot for the Texans continues to be the play of rookie Dameon Pierce, who ran for a career-high 139 yards to bounce back from a tough game last week, when he gained just 35 yards on 15 carries.
”He’s hard to stop,” Smith said. ”I wouldn’t want to be a defensive back with him having a full head of steam, running downhill. He keeps his legs moving, running power. Offensive line, I thought we got some good push.”
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