GREEN BAY – While Randall Cobb did indeed jog off the field last Sunday after injuring his ankle and knee on a punt return, it wasn’t because the Green Bay Packers’ leading receiver and return specialist wasn’t in pain.
He just didn’t want his mom to worry.
“I was worried the whole time. I jogged off the field because my mom was there. I know she was crazy in the stands, so that’s the only reason I jogged off the field,” Cobb said after not practicing on Thursday, as planned, in advance of Sunday’s regular-season finale at Minnesota. “I’m progressing every day. Sunday it was hurting pretty bad. When I woke up Monday, I felt a lot better. Just trying to get better each day.”
Cobb was injured when he was tackled by Tennessee’s Tracy Wilson while returning a punt with 8 minutes 38 seconds left in the third quarter of the Packers’ 55-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans – a game in which Cobb set the franchise single-season record for all-purpose yardage. On his previous two punt returns, Cobb had gained 14 and 17 yards.
Last week at Chicago, Cobb took another hard hit on a punt return, a hit he said was the worst he'd taken this season, and as a result, some – including quarterback Aaron Rodgers – questioned whether Cobb was too valuable to the offense to keep on returns.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy made it clear on Monday that under no circumstances would a healthy Cobb be taken off returns in the playoffs. If Cobb can’t play Sunday, special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said first-year wide receiver Jeremy Ross would handle punts and possibly kickoffs as well, but once Cobb returns, he’ll stay on returns.
“I think Jeremy is well-capable of doing both of the return elements. (But) Randall is our return and will be our returner as we move forward,” Slocum said. “We’ll address any potential change in the future based on all the information we use to make those decisions.”
And for his part, Cobb said he understands his coaches’ position.
“I love football, I love being on the field. If I wasn’t on returns, it would take away from who I am and what I do,” Cobb said. “Obviously, hopefully, at some point, it would happen, it would change. But right now, we’re worrying about the season and what would be the best option to get us to the Super Bowl.
“This is a physical, dangerous game we play. At any given time, your career could end. I had flashes mine was over on just that play Sunday, because I didn’t know the severity of it. You can’t go out there and play scared, you have to go out there and play ball regardless of what play it is – special teams, offense or defense. You just have to go out there and play ball.”
Whether Cobb can play ball Sunday remains to be seen. McCarthy said the medical staff scheduled Cobb for only treatment on Thursday instead of taking part in practice, with the intention of testing him Friday morning to see how the knee and ankle responded. A decision on his availability would be made from there.
“We may know tomorrow, we may know Saturday,” McCarthy said. “That’s our plan.”
Cobb said he didn’t know what the testing would entail. He said the ankle injury is “not that big of a deal” and “definitely not a high-ankle sprain,” also he said that “a little bit” of an issue with the knee showed up on an MRI, but that “it’s nothing to be worried about.”
Asked if he could play Sunday, Cobb replied: “I think it’s a possibility. Like I said, we’re going to take it day by day and see where we’re at on Sunday. We’ll test it tomorrow and see how much progression I’ve made over the past few days and we’ll see where we’re at on Sunday.
“You definitely have concerns when you’re dealing with an ankle or a knee, but you have to go out there and test and let your body go and let your mind go and see where you’re at.”
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