GREEN BAY, Wis. Randall Cobb wasn't a big part of the Packers' offense as a rookie last season, but after Sunday's game, it's obvious that the speedy 22-year-old receiver will be a major contributor for play-calling head coach Mike McCarthy this year.
Against the 49ers, Cobb was a playmaker and showed that he's a potential game-changer every time he touches the ball. Cobb led Green Bay with nine receptions -- catching every pass that was thrown his way -- for 77 yards. He also had a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter when the Packers were down by 16 and seemingly completely out of the game.
"We knew we were going to get some opportunities," Cobb said of his punt return. "(Punter) Andy Lee is a big-leg kicker and he outkicks his coverage sometimes, and he outkicked his coverage, so I had room to work. I got three good blocks up the sidelines and beat the kicker to the end zone."
A flag was thrown on the return, which appeared to be for an illegal block in the back on Green Bay, but the referee who made the call ended up deciding that it wasn't a penalty, so the touchdown counted.
Cobb had a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Week 1 last season, as well.
"Hopefully let's make that a full-season return specialist this year," said Cobb when talking about what's made him so successful in the return game in Week 1 of his first two NFL seasons.
Cobb, a second-round draft pick by the Packers in 2011, has already established himself as a return man. But on offense, he played only 309 snaps last season, by far the least among Green Bay's wide receivers. Cobb's only touchdown as a receiver last season came in Week 1, and he finished with just 25 catches for 375 yards.
But on Sunday, Cobb was in with Aaron Rodgers and the offense frequently. On many of those plays, Cobb lined up a few steps to the left or right side of Rodgers. Cobb wasn't in the location where a running back would stand, but he was lined up more in the backfield than where a traditional receiver would be. On other plays, Cobb was in the slot when Green Bay went to a four-receiver set.
Wherever it is, Cobb was just happy to not be on the sideline as often as he was last season.
"Any time you can be on the field, it's nice to be on the field," Cobb said. "I was trying to make the most of my opportunities and do what I could, contribute any way I could."
During the Packers' third drive, Rodgers threw three consecutive passes to Cobb, all of which started with him in the backfield. Those plays seemed to be designed with Cobb as the first option. With Green Bay's first two drives ending in punts, the offense needed something to get them making consistent progress down the field, and the passes to Cobb provided that.
"He played great," Rodgers said. "He's a big time player, great punt return obviously, but we're going to try to find ways to get him matched up on positive mismatches for him out there. The more opportunities we can give him in space, there's a lot of good plays out there he had."
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