Taking Randall Cobb off Return Duty Would Be Wise Move by Packers' Mike McCarthy

Ben ChodosCorrespondent IIFebruary 22, 2013

Jan 5, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA;  Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) during warmups prior to the NFC Wild Card playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field.  The Packers won 24-10.  Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Woodson is out, and Greg Jennings may not be far behind the future Hall of Famer. The Green Bay Packers are getting younger, and it is time for the coaching staff to nail down roles for the team’s rising stars.

Mike McCarthy has recognized this and has turned his focus to figuring out how best to use Randall Cobb, who led the NFL in all-purpose yards last season. The Green Bay Press Gazette’s Weston Hodkiewicz reported the following quote from the Packers coach: 

He’s someone who spent a lot of time this time last year developing packages for him, as far as putting him in the backfield and so forth. I prefer not to play him on special teams. We’ll let time answer that.

Cobb has certainly been a productive return man, averaging 25.4 yards on kickoff returns and 9.4 yards on punt returns last season. He was able to take one punt back for a touchdown.

But his greatest impact came as a wide receiver in 2012. He finished the year with 80 receptions for 95 yards and eight touchdowns in his second season in the NFL.

He played quarterback in college and has flashed his versatility often for Green Bay. He has lined up on the flank and in the slot, and he was regularly featured in the backfield. 

At 5’10” and 192 pounds, Cobb is a very similar size to Jennings. The veteran Packers wideout is not expected to return to Green Bay for the 2013 season, according to The Green Bay Press Gazette’s Mike Vandermause.

Like Jennings, Cobb is an exceptional route-runner with the ability to line up in multiple positions. He also has deceptive speed, incredible agility and fantastic hands.

Cobb is an ideal replacement for Jennings, but if the Packers are going to trust him to be one of the stars of their receiving corps, they will have to somehow lighten his load.

He simply cannot be featured out wide on first and second downs, while lining up in the backfield or in the slot on third down, and also return punts and kicks.

Going forward, Cobb will be an instrumental part of the Packers offense.

His exceptional performances in 2012 have made McCarthy’s decision easy. Players like Jeremy Ross—who handled return duties at times last season—can fill in on special teams. Cobb needs to be fresh for each offensive series. 

The Packers' success is hugely dependent on the passing game, and Cobb has the potential to be the team’s most dangerous weapon for several years. It is time to take him out of the return game and let him blossom into a star wide receiver.