GREEN BAY – Whenever Randall Cobb is healthy, he will return to full-time duty as the Green Bay Packers’ punt and kick returner.
Despite losing Cobb to an ankle injury with 8 minutes 38 seconds left in the third quarter of Sunday’s 55-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said in no uncertain terms Monday morning that Cobb will be back in his normal role when he’s healthy – including in next Sunday’s regular-season finale at Minnesota.
“Randall Cobb is a big part of our success on special teams. Our special teams has been our most consistent unit of our football team from Week 1 to Week 15. You don’t establish the way you play, the vision of the way you play, and then all of a sudden change going into the last week of the season,” McCarthy said. “We’ll see what happens here with Randall and we’ll evaluate his injury and then we’ll make decisions as we go forward. The philosophy of him playing on special teams has not changed.”
Since McCarthy took over as head coach in 2006, the Packers have not been afraid to use starters and key contributors on offense or defense as returners. Cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams have been in that role, as has wide receiver Jordy Nelson.
“I’ll be honest with you: I don’t have a really high tolerance for this because I don’t understand how you play scared in the game of football. I don’t get that,” McCarthy said sternly. “I think it’s convenient questioning. I understand the risk involved in every single play. Some plays are higher risk than others, and I’m fully aware of that.
“But you can’t sit here and say special teams is important if you don’t put a guy like Randall Cobb out there as a returner. 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.”
Cobb has unexpectedly emerged as the Packers’ No. 1 receiving threat this season, leading the team in receptions (80) and receiving yards (954) while Nelson and Greg Jennings have been sidelined for lengthy spells with injuries. Cobb has returned 38 kickoffs for a 25.4-yard average with a long of 46, and he’s returned 31 punts for a 9.4-yard average, including a 75-yard touchdown.
McCarthy didn’t have any update on Cobb’s health, although he said Cobb seemed optimistic and the team’s medical staff wasn’t overly worried, either. Cobb was scheduled to undergo further testing Monday morning.
“He may be in there as we speak. Then the doctors will determine what scans (are) needed, and we’ll get that information sometime today,” said McCarthy, who held his day-after-the-game press conference at 8 a.m. because of Christmas Eve. “The medical staff does not have high concern. Randall’s so positive, so he doesn’t seem very concerned. But you go through the process and scans and so forth and make sure we get all the information.”
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There are no games scheduled for today.