2012 was a breakout season for Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb. Cobb had 80 receptions for 954 yards along with 132 rushing yards on 10 carries. In addition to his offensive contributions, Cobb was used on kickoff returns and punt returns. He averaged 25.4 yards per kick return and 9.4 yards per punt return.
Cobb is one of the NFL’s most dangerous return specialists. He’s also one of the smartest. That was evidenced during a Week 16 game against the Tennessee Titans. On a kickoff that crept toward the sideline, Cobb recovered it while he had a foot out of bounds. Due to a technicality in the rules, the Packers were rewarded with almost 35 yards of field position.
Why would the Packers remove Cobb from special teams? During a punt return in that same game, Cobb injured his ankle. He was inactive for the regular-season finale against the Minnesota Vikings. The Packers lost 37-34.
Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy have both voiced their concerns on this issue. They don’t want Cobb taking additional hits. In 2013, it becomes even more important because Donald Driver retired and Greg Jennings may not re-sign. That leaves the Packers with James Jones, an oft-injured Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin, Jeremy Ross and Cobb. That doesn’t include any off-season signings or draft picks.
After Cobb went down with his ankle injury, Ross had a few solid returns. Head coach Mike McCarthy saw enough from Ross to make him the punt returner in a 2013 NFC Divisional playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately, Ross muffed one of the punts, leading to a huge momentum shift and a 49ers touchdown.
The Packers have an entire off-season to get this straightened out. There’s no reason to jeopardize Cobb on special teams. If McCarthy isn’t happy with Ross, then management can find someone in the 2013 NFL Draft.