When the Packers were mulling whether or not to bring Donald Driver back from the dance floor for another season, one of the reasons cited most often for letting him go was Randall Cobb’s potential as a receiver.
Cobb caught 25 passes last season, but his speed gave the team another weapon to use in their passing game and they’re expected to find new ways to exploit that weapon in 2012. He also returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns, increasing his value and making it certain that he’ll remain as the kick returner even if he sees more time on the offense. Special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum told Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com why that’s the case.
“It’s all in the perspective, of how you look at the return game. It is the first play of the offense?” Slocum said. “It’s vitally important to setting up field position, the potential to score, things of that nature. When we start with the ball outside the 20 or an explosive return outside the 40, or punt returns for big gains, it really enhances our offensive production. So I think he’s a vital part of that, and as we move forward, we’ll always consider each players’ role in terms of play time.”
Given the depth of the Packers’ receiving corps (plus tight end Jermichael Finley), there’s not much risk that the Packers are going to burn Cobb out by keeping him on kick returns. He’ll get plenty of chances to burn secondaries, but, as Slocum said, he’s going to help the offense just as much by continuing to break big returns that give Aaron Rodgers a short field that enhances his chances of leading the Pack to another touchdown.
Keeping him as the primary kick returner also makes it a bit less likely that the team will make a move with James Jones before the season. There have been plenty of trade rumors about a talented receiver caught in a deep position, but the need to keep him around rises as long as Cobb’s duties are split between offense and special teams.