Randall Cobb ready to star in multiple choice roles for Packers
By Tyler Dunne, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
~GREEN BAY – In Year 2, Randall Cobb became a go-to weapon. Lining up in the backfield, the slot, wherever, the former college quarterback single-handedly opened up the Green Bay Packers’ playbook.
And Cobb believes 2012 was just the beginning.
“I really don’t think I’ve peaked yet,” Cobb said Tuesday before the Packers’ annual Tailgate Tour. “I’m 22 years old. I’ve got a lot of learning still to do. I have a long way to go and I just hope I continue to get better over the next years.”
That’d be good news for the Packers. With Greg Jennings off to the Minnesota Vikings and Donald Driver retired, the receiving corps officially enters a new era. In 2012, the passing game started with Cobb, who led the team with 80 receptions for 954 yards and eight touchdowns. Green Bay did function and flourish without Jennings in the lineup last season.
Now, his absence is permanent. Cobb presumably will take on a bigger role alongside James Jones and Jordy Nelson.
“I think definitely with Donald retiring and Greg leaving, it’s definitely going to be a lot more weight on me, James and Jordy’s shoulders,” Cobb said. “But we’re taking on the challenge head-on. We’ve been really excited to get back and work. We’ve got some young guys, some drafted guys that’s coming in.
“We’re excited to get back to work and see how it’s going to turn out this year.”
Don’t be surprised if the coaches pull Cobb off special teams. 2011 NFL Play of the Year
At the NFL scouting combine in February, coach Mike McCarthy said he was hoping Cobb would not return punts and kicks next season. He’s dangerous in the return game. Cobb averaged 9.4 yards per punt return and 25.4 yards per kick return in 2012.
But it may be more dangerous for the Packers to subject their top offensive weapon to gunners at top speed.
In Week 16 last season, Cobb injured his ankle while fielding a punt against Tennessee. Afterward, McCarthy insisted he wouldn’t “play scared” by removing Cobb from return duties. Yet by the divisional playoff round at San Francisco, wide receiver Jeremy Ross returned punts.
Ross showed promise in the 55-7 win over the Titans with a 58-yard punt return. But he also had a costly fumble against the 49ers.
“I don’t know,” Cobb said. “If I’m able to do it and they want me to do it, perfect. If not, perfect.
We have one goal and that’s to bring the title back home. Whatever it’s going to take to bring us there, if that’s me returning, if that’s me not returning, that’s something we’ll figure out over the next few weeks going into training camp and early on in the season.”
Cobb’s ascent has been quick. Before embarking on a full week of charity functions, autographs and non-stop attention, Cobb seemed surprised to be such a star attraction at age 22.
“You really just have to embrace it,” Cobb said. “You have to love it and have fun with it. I’m really excited about this tour to give me an opportunity to have fun with it.”
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RANDALL COBB had a team-leading 80 receptions last year, including 8 touchdown catches and 45 first down receptions. He took a punt back for a touchdown last season as well as his rookie season in which he had both a punt and kick return for a touchdown.
Randall also was a very effective runner, as he averaged a whopping 13.2 yards per carry on his 10 attempts last season. While it worked very well, it’s a bit dangerous to risk giving the ball to Cobb too often, as Packer fans know as well as anyone how often running backs get injured. Alex Green, Cedric Benson, James Starks, Brandon Saine are all bigger and stronger than the 5-10, 182-pound Cobb is, and they all sustained serious injuries against the big defenses of today’s NFL.