It’s a good thing for the Green Bay Packers that Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin will be watching Sunday’s game from the sideline because of an ankle injury, but it does deprive fans of an opportunity to watch Harvin square off against Green Bay’s own electric wide receiver Randall Cobb.
Both Cobb and Harvin are notable for their speed and versatility. Both receivers also double as returners – kickoffs for Harvin, kickoffs and punts for Cobb – and are able to carry the ball out of the backfield. With their similar skill sets, both players make problems for defenses because they are able to line up in so many different ways. Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier noted their comparable abilities: “I take a look just at what Green Bay is doing with Randall, it reminds me so much of the way we use Percy … We definitely use Percy in a lot of different ways and I can see the similarities with the way Green Bay is using Cobb.”
Cobb leads the NFL in all-purpose yards with 1,754 through 11 games – 300 yards more than the next guy. Harvin is fourth in the league with 1,347, a stat which becomes more impressive when you factor in the fact that Harvin doesn’t return punts and he’s only played in nine games this season. (You know who’s number two in all-purpose yards? Adrian Peterson. Doesn’t it seem kind of unfair that one team has two players who are top four in all-purpose yards? That’s crazy!)
It’s no coincidence that Cobb’s game follows in Harvin’s mold. Green Bay offensive coordinator Tom Clements said that the coaches spent time in the offseason studying film on Harvin, as well as New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles, while preparing to expand Cobb’s role in the offense.
And expanded it has. Packer Pro-Bowl defensive lineman B.J. Raji, speaking on Green Bay’s spate of injuries, recently stated that there were only two players the team couldn’t do without: Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb. “He’s our version of Percy Harvin,” Raji said of Cobb.
Though fans will not get to watch two of the most exciting and dynamic playmakers go head-to-head on Sunday, the Packers and Vikings do meet again in the season finale in Minneapolis. The matchup will allow Harvin and Cobb to show off their versatility and dependability, and it would be no surprise if one of these two players proves to be the difference in the game.