Randall Cobb emerges as WR for Packers

October, 17, 2012
10/17/12
12:00
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The Green Bay Packers scored on six passing touchdowns Sunday night at Reliant Stadium. Receiver Randall Cobb didn't catch any of them, which probably explains why there hasn't been much discussion about the first 100-yard game of his brief career. But in the 2 1/2 games since replacing the injured Greg Jennings in three-receiver sets, Cobb has served notice that he is ready and able to take on a permanent role in the Packers' offense.

Over that stretch, Cobb has caught 18 passes for 250 yards while playing roughly 58 percent of the Packers' offensive snaps. And this week, quarterback Aaron Rodgers made sure no one missed Cobb's emergence.

[+] EnlargeRandall Cobb
Troy Taormina/US PresswireRandall Cobb is "probably going to go down as one of the best picks in Ted Thompson's career," according to Aaron Rodgers.
Speaking Tuesday on his ESPN 540 radio show Rodgers said Cobb "is probably going to go down as one of the best picks in [Packers general manager] Ted Thompson's career, if not the best." Cobb was the No. 64 overall pick of the 2011 draft, but remember, Thompson's résumé includes Rodgers himself (No. 24 overall in 2005), along with Jennings (No. 52 in 2006), linebacker Clay Matthews (No. 26 in 2009), guard Josh Sitton (No. 135 in 2008) and safety Nick Collins (No. 51 in 2005).

Rodgers called Cobb "a personnel and a coach's dream" because of his innate understanding of -- and professional approach to -- the game. He then compared him favorably to Jennings, whose march to free agency Cobb appears to be hastening. We all know Cobb is an excellent returner and open-field runner (he ranks No. 8 in the NFL with 197 yards after his 29 catches, according to ESPN Stats & Information) but Rodgers praised his route-running and quiet confidence as well.

"He's very intelligent and deliberate about his preparation," Rodgers said. "He understands soft spots in zones. He's very detailed in his route running. He and Greg were both very similar when they came in. I still remember the first day that Greg was here in 2006. He ran a comeback outside, and it was just the most mature route I'd seen from a first year player. Obviously I was just a second year player, but you look back and go, man, that guy was really detailed in his routes.

"But the professionalism that Greg took to the team as a young player was so refreshing and surprising, because he just carried himself in a way that was very respectful and classy, but also that he belonged. He had enough confidence in himself. I hadn’t seen that with any player until Randall.

"Randall came in last year very respectful and classy, but with that kind of edge like, 'I belong here. This isn't too big for me.' And it's not that every player who comes in is overwhelmed, but you just don't see that class and that respect and that confidence from a young player. Greg and Randall, I've just never seen anybody who just got it like those two guys and there's no question why they're such talented players."

Cobb's performance, along with those of veterans Jordy Nelson and James Jones, has supported the Packers' decision to let Jennings take the slow and careful route in rehabilitating his strained groin. The Packers are 2-1 in the games Jennings has missed. I'm not sure if anyone knows how playing time will be distributed when Jennings returns, but if there were any doubts about what Cobb can do as a receiver, they've been settled over the past three weeks.

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