Ex-Cat Randall Cobb fills many roles with Packers

Milwaukee Journal SentinelJuly 30, 2012 

Packers Football

Former UK star Randall Cobb, left, was defended by linebacker Clay Matthews during training camp on Thursday. The Packers' first pre-season game is Aug. 9 against the Chargers.


GREEN BAY, Wis. — About 20 hours of coursework stand between Randall Cobb and a college degree. He's not going to shove the books aside now.

The Green Bay Packers wide receiver wants to be the first person in his immediate family to earn a diploma.

"It's a personal thing for me," the former University of Kentucky standout said.

On the Packers' off-day Sunday, Cobb planned to study for his test in Early Childhood Development with Mental Disorders, a class he has an "A" in.

He took a class last summer, too. Nothing new.

Cobb has no problem welcoming more responsibilities.

On the field, he's asked to do a little bit of everything.

As a rookie last season, Cobb woke up a comatose return game. Now a more mature route-runner, the 5-foot-10, 192-pound Cobb may be forcing himself into Green Bay's offense.

Coach Mike McCarthy and the Packers must decide exactly how much they can add to Cobb's job description — and how much they can feature him within the offense. This training camp, Cobb is trying to find a niche.

He returns kicks. He catches passes. And last season, Cobb even appeared in the backfield, a twist the Packers have experimented with at training camp.

It's a lot to handle. Sometimes, Cobb does wish he could zero in at wide receiver and master one, specific role.

"You do," Cobb said, "but at the same time there are pros and cons to it. I mean, focusing in on one thing, I wouldn't be able to show talents in other areas. But showing talents and being very versatile, you can't master one thing. So it's all about trying to build that talent and that skill through all the different things all together."

So this is the challenge. Cobb's talent, 0-to-60 speed and potential within McCarthy's offense are unquestioned. But are the Packers spreading him too thin?

On Friday, Cobb hauled in a deep, over-the-shoulder 60-yard reception from Aaron Rodgers with cornerback Tramon Williams in tight coverage. Already smooth in the slot, the vertical shot stood out. But on Saturday — with the pads on — he had a pair of drops. In a blitz drill, Cobb had a step on linebacker Nick Perry over the middle and dropped the ball. And in one-on-ones with defensive backs, he dropped another.

Cobb, who frequently popped into coaches meetings at Kentucky, said he can juggle it all.

"I don't know what it is," Cobb said. "My coaches always said I had some kind of 'it' factor back in college and high school. I just pick up stuff. I hold onto it and try to leave it in my memory. Whatever I'm doing, I just remember those things."

Last year, Cobb didn't even see the playbook until the first day of training camp because of the lockout. His first NFL touchdown catch, in the season opener, came on a botched route. As a rookie, he caught 25 passes for 375 yards. Now, it's hard to imagine Cobb remaining at the bottom of the receiver totem pole.

"Whether my workload's big or small," Cobb said, "I'm going to do whatever I can to take advantage of my opportunities."

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