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Packers Cobb ready for all assignments

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Chris Jenkins
August 3, 2011
— Randall Cobb didn’t disappear when the Green Bay Packers finally did some hitting in practice.

The second-round draft pick out of Kentucky made several nice catches Monday night, the Packers’ first training camp practice in pads.


Although Cobb is expected to make his most immediate contributions to the Packers as a returner, he also wants to prove he can play wide receiver.


“I want to make an impact in any way I can and get us back to the Super Bowl,” Cobb said. “That’s my first task is do whatever the coaches feel that’s needed of me to make sure we get back to another Super Bowl. If that includes receiver, I’m happy to do it.”


It won’t be easy. The Packers just re-signed free agent James Jones to an already well-stocked group of wide receivers that includes Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson. Playmaking tight end Jermichael Finley is returning from an injury.


There are only so many passes to go around.


And while all those veteran players know the Packers’ offense, Cobb is still learning the finer points of playing receiver in the NFL—and because of the lockout, he didn’t have a typical offseason of team-organized workouts to help him get acclimated.


“All of our young guys are struggling at this time of camp, and that’s normal,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “Randall’s everything that we thought he would be physically, and very bright. He’s very bright-eyed, communicates very well, and seems to be picking things up pretty rapidly.”


McCarthy said it will take time, and repeated practice snaps with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, for Cobb to learn the finer points of playing the position in the Packers’ offense.


“Everybody plays football, everybody has similar plays,” McCarthy said. “But it’s the ability to ‘cheat’ within the particular play with anticipation, coverage recognition—all the things that help a receiver be productive and create a smart path to run a good route, create separation for the quarterback.”


Cobb acknowledges that he was somewhat overwhelmed when he first got his hands on the playbook.


“It was huge,” Cobb said. “It was huge. It’s not really as bad as how it looks, it’s just the terminology. I ran a lot of the same plays and the same concepts in college but it’s just the terminology’s a lot different.”


Cobb said his background as a quarterback—the position he played when he first came to Kentucky—is helping him grasp the offense.


“It helps out a lot because I understand the progressions and I understand what the quarterback’s looking for,” Cobb said. “Being a route-runner, it helps me to know my spacing and how I need to adjust my routes, depending on the coverages.”


Cobb also is expected to contribute on special teams, both in the return game and possibly as the holder on field goal attempts.


McCarthy said Monday that he currently is considering Cobb as mainly a punt returner. Fellow rookie Alex Green, a third-round running back out of Hawaii, will be in the mix as a kick returner. The Packers also brought Shaky Smithson, one of the nation’s leading returners at Utah last season, in as an undrafted free agent.


The attention is warranted: The Packers haven’t run a punt back for a touchdown since 2008, and haven’t run a kickoff back for a touchdown since Allen Rossum did it in a game against Indianapolis on Nov. 19, 2000.


“I was 10 years old,” Cobb noted.


Cobb has made a good impression on Jennings, but the veteran wants to see more.


“I think he’s learning really fast,” Jennings said. “I think he’s a smart learner. It’s hard to gauge without having those pads on (before Monday) and you’re looking at so many guys. But I think he’s definitely going to have an impact offensively and special teams.”



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