Randall Cobb hurt his ankle returning a punt last season and we all complained about his continued use on special teams. Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy didn’t see the logic of taking the team’s leading receiver off kick return duty then, but he apparently does now.
“Randall, extremely productive, obviously his statistics support that, and his ability to play all those positions I thought was a big part of our production, not only as an offense but on special teams,” McCarthy said. “Our special teams in a number of areas was about as good as we’ve played in our time there in Green Bay, and Randall is a big part of that. I hope he’s not playing next year. That’s really the responsibility of the rest of the skill players in the locker room.”
While Cobb remained a dangerous return man, it’s hard to justify exposing an offensive weapon of his caliber to the big hits of the return game. That’s even more the case when you have another guy who’s more than capable of filling the role.
We know. He fumbled in the playoff loss to San Francisco, but otherwise, rookie Jeremy Ross was just as good at returning kicks as Cobb.
As Cobb was setting career highs with 80 receptions and 954 yards, his return averages dipped. On kicks, Cobb averaged 25.4, down from 27.7 in 2011. On punts, his average fell from 11.3 to 9.4 in 2012.
Ross only had a small sampling, but turned in averages of 28.7 on kick returns and 25.8 on punts.
If he can hang onto the ball, the Packers are more than set in that area of special teams. That should allow the team to protect Cobb as he becomes a larger part of the offense.