UK Football

Fumble hasn't hurt Randall Cobb's stock with coaches

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) is returns a kickoff during an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) is returns a kickoff during an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb's fumbling of a first-quarter kickoff against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday hasn't lessened his coaches' confidence in the former Kentucky star.

Packers special teams coach Shawn Slocum told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he didn't hesitate to put Cobb back in the game. Slocum told the newspaper that he chastised the rookie for not taking out a second-quarter kickoff that bounced at the goal-line and right into Cobb's hands a couple yards deep.

"The one-hopper off the ground? I thought he should have taken that out," Slocum told the newspaper. "It was a great opportunity to hit it. The ball was not in the air long and he caught it cleanly.

"He was going a little sideways and I think that's why he decided to keep it in the end zone."

Cobb, who ranks second in the NFL on kickoff returns to Minnesota Vikings' Percy Harvin, has only one return of less than 20 yards.

On the play in which Cobb fumbled, Slocum told the Journal Sentinel that he just wants Cobb to hang on to the ball.

"His running style, he hit the target right where it was supposed to be run," Slocum said. "They did a good job of closing us down right there."

Slocum said Cobb's somewhat reckless return style is fine with him.

"I love it," Slocum said. "He's going to continue to do that. But we need to block a little better and give him more space. We'll get that done."

Giants prefer Vick to play

Some losses linger longer than others. For New York Giants defensive lineman Justin Tuck, the bitter aftertaste of last year's 38-31 defeat to the Eagles, when his team suffered a classic meltdown, won't be leaving any time soon.

The Giants went on to finish the season 10-6 and miss the playoffs. That game likely will be talked about frequently this week as a lead-in to the Eagles matchup Sunday with the Giants.

"Last year will linger with me until I die," Tuck said.

The Giants held a 31-10 lead midway through the fourth quarter before the Eagles ended matters on a 28-0 stampede, culminated by DeSean Jackson's 65-yard punt return touchdown on the final play of the game.

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was magnificent in that comeback, throwing two touchdown passes and running for another in the fourth quarter alone. With the wound from that game still clearly fresh, Tuck and his teammates are hoping the Eagles quarterback is able to play on Sunday.

"Me, personally, I would love for him to play," Tuck said. "I think he brings out the best in us, too."

In last year's win, Vick rushed for 130 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries and threw for 242 yards and three touchdowns.

"I think it would be good for this team (if Vick plays), and also we could get some redemption," said Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka. "A win with Vick in the game, no doubt about that, would be confidence booster."

Around the league

Bills: Roscoe Parrish's season is over after Buffalo placed the receiver on injured reserve Tuesday, two days after he hurt his left ankle.

Second-year player David Nelson is expected to take over in the slot after filling in for Parrish on Sunday.

Nelson scored the decisive touchdown on a 6-yard catch against Oakland with 14 seconds left, capping a 35-point second-half eruption in which Buffalo overcame a 21-3 deficit.

Ravens: Baltimore signed defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to a five-year, $61 million contract. His agent, Mike McCartney, said Ngata will get $40 million in the first two years of the deal.

The All-Pro defensive tackle has 10 tackles, six solos, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.