Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Cobb presents special problem for Bears
By Jeff Dickerson
Randall Cobb already is one of the best returners in Green Bay history.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears coverage units will face a step up in competition in Week 2 in the form of Randall Cobb, Green Bay's electrifying second-year returner who brought back a punt 75 yards for a touchdown in the Packers loss to San Francisco last Sunday.
Cobb burst on the scene in 2011 when as a rookie when he returned a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown in the Packers regular-season opener, making him the first player in NFL history to score on a kick return in Week 1 in each of his first two seasons in the league. Cobb is already tied for No. 2 in Green Bay franchise history with 3 total returns for touchdowns (2 PR, 1 KR), even though he's participated in just 16 games.
“We have to manage our kicks very well this week with Cobb back there," Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. "He's excellent. He is, if not the best, besides Devin (Hester), I don't who else there is. Maybe the guy down in Arizona (Patrick Peterson), he's pretty good too.”
But it won't be a walk in the park for Cobb. Special teams is always a strength for the Bears and Toub got quality performances from his units in the Bears' victory over Indianapolis, especially from newcomers Blake Costanzo and Evan Rodriguez, and second-year linebacker J.T. Thomas who forced a key fumble that was recovered by Kelvin Hayden.
“Just a solid performance," Toub said. "It wasn't spectacular. I was happy with a lot of the young guys. It was good to see. Rodriguez did some good things. Blake is everything he's advertised. He really played great and he's a leader as well.
"J.T. (had a) huge play. He's one of those young guys I was talking about because really, in essence, he's still a rookie. For him to go down there and make that play, tackle inside the 20 and then cause the fumble, that was big.”
The only real negative came when Charles Tillman injured his right shin on the punt team, a role Tillman has occupied his entire career despite being a perennial starter and Pro Bowl selection last season.
“We have approximately seven starters that play at least one phase," Toub said. "The phases I'm talking about is punt, punt return, kickoff and kickoff return. [Tillman] is one of the best corners that there is in football as far as shut-down-gunner-type corners. We've got to have him on the field because he's the best guy we've got. He can shutdown a gunner single-handedly. There's not many guys that can do that.”