Rams’ Brandin Cooks has connection with Chargers as teams prepare for joint practices

Rams receiver Brandin Cooks plays with a football on the sidelines during a game last season against the 49ers at the Coliseum.
Rams receiver Brandin Cooks is looking forward to the joint practices with the Chargers.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

For Rams receiver Brandin Cooks, joint practices with the Chargers on Thursday and Saturday have added sentiment.

Cooks grew up in Stockton and remains close with boyhood friend Phil Ruhl, the grandson of late Chargers owner Alex Spanos.

Alex Spanos died in October at age 95. Cooks was among the attendees at his memorial service.

“It’s a special family that means a lot to our community in Stockton,” Cooks said of the Spanos. “They’ve done a lot for not just the community but me and my family.”

Last season, Cooks caught 80 passes for a career-best 1,204 yards and also scored five touchdowns. It was his fourth 1,000-yard performance in five NFL seasons.


“He’s the epitome of being a pro,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “You talk about a guy who is detail-oriented, locked in, loves the game, takes his preparation seriously and then he has the talent to match it.”

During the offseason, Cooks and his wife traveled in southeast Asia with fellow Rams receiver Robert Woods and his wife.

“It’s one of those things you feel like you hit the reset button,” Cooks said. “You go with people you care about and have fun seeing a part of the world you haven’t seen before. So all that stuff combined in one is definitely special. And when we got back we were ready to rock.”

Cooks and other starters are expected to get plenty of work during the practices with the Chargers. The Thursday workout is at the Chargers’ facility in Costa Mesa. The Saturday practice will be at UC Irvine.

There will be no tackling as both teams aim to avoid injuries.

“Our guys know that we’re going there to get work in and it’s about that,” McVay said. “To be able to do it against a really high-caliber team is really good for us, and we have to make sure we don’t waste opportunities to get better and really the two days will represent an awesome chance for us to do that.”