The Green Bay Packers have had quite a wild year. Yet even with injuries, controversial losses, and contracts of key players like Greg Jennings expiring, the team has still found ways to keep winning.
After starting the season at just 2-3, the Packers turned it around completely, winning nine of their last 11 games. That record was good enough to give them the NFC North title, and the third seed in the NFC playoffs.
With all of the injuries to the team over the year, many have begun to compare this season to the 2010 season, when the Packers won the Super Bowl. That year, the Packers suffered injuries to players like Ryan Grant, Morgan Burnett, Jermichael Finley, and others.
Luckily for Green Bay, the key players that were injured this season are finally starting to get healthy. Charles Woodson finally returned for the playoff game against the Vikings, while Clay Matthews, Greg Jennings, and others have returned just in time for another Super Bowl run.
The wide receiver position has been one area where the Packers have struggled to stay healthy all season long. Greg Jennings was hurt for the majority of the season with a groin injury, playing in only eight games. Jordy Nelson also missed stretches of the season, missing four games in total.
But due to all of these injuries, one player has been able to step up and become a very reliable option for Aaron Rodgers.
That guy is second-year wideout Randall Cobb.
Cobb was taken by the Packers in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of the University of Kentucky. Cobb played a bit of quarterback there, but was mainly used as a receiver.
Cobb became a well-known name in Green Bay after only his first career game. He caught his first career touchdown on a 32-yard pass from Rodgers, and then topped it off with a 108-yard kickoff return in the third quarter of that same game. However, Cobb had a relatively quiet rookie season after that.
This year—his second in the league—Cobb has become the top target for Rodgers, and had 80 receptions for 954 yards and eight scores. Compared to last year, he improved his production by 55 catches, 579 yards, and seven touchdowns.
His jump in production has mainly been due to the absences of Jennings and Nelson, but it has also helped show the team and its fans that he is an incredibly explosive receiver, especially out of the slot position.
Besides being featured in the passing game, the Packers have also decided to give Cobb some opportunities running the ball this year. Though he only ran the ball 10 times on the season, he still managed to run for a very impressive 132 yards, which amounts to 13.2 yards per carry average. No matter how Cobb was used this season, he was responsible for some very explosive plays that helped keep Green Bay's offense moving all year long.
Cobb has clearly been the most improved player on this team. Sure, James Jones could also be in the running for this distinction after making some incredible catches over the season and leading the league with 14 receiving touchdowns.
However, Cobb's numbers have improved much more than anyone else on the team over the course of two years. With improvement like this, Cobb is appearing to be the wide receiver of the future for the Packers.
The Packers are happy to have found yet another wide receiver. Cobb is proving that he is the most explosive and athletic player on the offense. If he can continue to improve like he did over his first two years, Cobb could eventually become one of the best Packers receivers of all time.