Receiver/returner Randall Cobb has put up spectacular numbers in his second season
Randall Cobb injured his ankle returning a punt last Sunday, and if the dynamic second-year player can’t go in the regular season finale at Minnesota, he’ll fall just short of making NFL history. With 46 receiving yards and 36 kick return yards, Cobb would become the first player to gain 1,000 yards in each.
That Cobb is on the verge of starting his own “1,000/1,000 club” tells you two things. It tells you that the 22-year-old is having one heck of a season. It also tells you that very few Pro Bowl-caliber wide receivers have ever doubled as their team’s primary kick returner. And that brings me to the real point of this post.
Cobb should’ve been taken off special teams weeks ago. Returning kicks is not something a No. 1 receiver needs to be doing – especially when that No. 1 receiver weighs 192 pounds. It makes even less sense when you look at the numbers. Green Bay is ranked 12th in kick returns and 11th in punt returns. Not bad, but not good enough to justify exposing a player as valuable to the offense as Cobb. And I’m not the only one who thinks this way. Star quarterback Aaron Rodgers ended Sunday’s post-game press conference by saying, “He’s a big-time player. Hope we can get him off special teams soon.”
Despite the wishes of his best player, Mike McCarthy has no intention of making such a move at this time. ”Now, if we’re sitting here next year, we might be having a different conversation, but the way our team is built for 2012, Randall Cobb is a huge part of our success on special teams,” stated the head coach.
Look, I completely understand not wanting to make a switch now. Even though wide receiver Jeremy Ross was an accomplished returner in college, the postseason is no time to ask a rookie to get his feet wet. But next September is a different story. By then, the Packers will have had an entire offseason to break in a new return man. Whether it’s Ross or DuJuan Harris or somebody else, a player not named Cobb should be the one getting blown up 80 times in 2013. And while that might keep the “1,000/1,000 club” empty for yet another year, it might just help keep one of the game’s best young players on the field.