Packers rookie Cobb humble after 2-TD debut
GREEN BAY Although it's rare for a rookie to carry himself with the quiet brand of confidence Randall Cobb has shown in his short time with Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers has seen it before.
From the first days of training camp, Rodgers says Cobb has reminded him of another young wide receiver who made an immediate impact — Greg Jennings.
With that in mind, Rodgers isn't concerned that Cobb will let a two-touchdown debut on opening night go to his head.
"From the moment he got here, he had a different air about him," Rodgers said. "It was like Greg Jennings when Greg came in in 2006. There was just something different about him. He was a rookie, he was respectful, but he kind of walked around and carried himself like a veteran without being the kind of rookie that you think needs to grow up a little bit. He just had that class about him, that maturity."
Cobb, a second-round draft pick out of Kentucky, caught his first career touchdown pass in the first quarter of last Thursday's opener, a spectacular 32-yard catch-and-run that ended with a dive into the end zone.
He added another score in the third quarter, taking a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown. That tied an NFL record, and was the Packers' first touchdown on a kickoff return since 2000.
Cobb's big night is a continuation of the success he had early in training camp and the preseason, before he missed some time with knee bruises.
He's trying to stay humble — and yes, he realizes humility is not a trait found in many elite wide receivers.
"Yeah, that's how a lot of guys are," Cobb said Wednesday. "But like I said, I'm different. I try to be my own person."
Along those lines, Cobb acknowledged immediately after Thursday's game that both his scoring plays were the result of mistakes: He ran the wrong route on his touchdown catch and should have taken a touchback on his kickoff return.
Cobb expected to hear it from his coaches.
"I didn't get that bad of comments," Cobb said, smiling. "But at the same time, I know that I made mistakes. At a crucial time in the game if I make those mistakes and I get covered, I bust the whole play and I mess up a whole play. So it's very important that I continue to work to get better and keep learning."
Asked earlier this week about Cobb's decision to return a kick 8 yards deep in the end zone, Packers coach Mike McCarthy noted that players are graded on their assignments, decisions and techniques.
The decision? A minus. The assignment? Also a minus.
And the technique?
"That's a hell of a technique," McCarthy said.
Packers coaches generally want returners to take a touchback if the ball is more than 5 yards deep in the end zone.
Cobb raised a few eyebrows last Thursday night when he was asked what went into his decision to run the kick back.
"Just trust in God," Cobb said that night. "He told me to bring it out."
Asked about that comment Wednesday, Cobb reiterated that his split-second decision was a function of his faith.
"A lot of things aren't logical that he takes care of," Cobb said. "That wasn't a great decision to bring it out. But obviously I trusted in him enough to where he still put me in a good position, gave me an opportunity to make a play."
Will Cobb have any trouble balancing moments of religious inspiration with the wishes of his coaches?
"My No. 1 priority is my faith," Cobb said. "I mean, that's always going to go above anything. But at the same time, I've got to stay in tune with the game plan and be smart about the decisions I make."
Packers special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum doesn't foresee any problems.
"That's a pretty good mindset," Slocum said. "That's a pretty powerful factor."
And Slocum joked that he has no illusions about where his coaching authority ends and a higher authority begins.
"I think there's an obvious answer to that question," Slocum said.
Although his mistakes led to brilliant results Thursday, Cobb knows he needs to firm up his grasp of the game to earn more playing time.
"I'm still making mistakes," Cobb said. "Yeah, I want to be on the field, but the coaches aren't going to put me on the field if I don't know what I'm doing. As far as getting snaps, I'm a competitor, I want to be on the field. I want to have the opportunity to make plays. But that's on myself, and I've got to make sure I handle my business so I can have the opportunity to stay on the field."
Mistakes and all, Cobb already has earned Rodgers' respect.
"For a young kid — he just turned 21 recently — he really understands his place on the team and how to be a professional," Rodgers said. "We're not worried about him. We've just got to get him more touches."