Cobb close, but no decision made on status as returner

Dec. 31, 2012

Randall Cobb was close, but not close enough for the Green Bay Packers to warrant pushing their dynamic wide receiver back a moment too soon during Sunday’s 37-34 loss to Minnesota.

A game-time decision with the ankle and knee injuries suffered the week before in a blowout of Tennessee, the Packers opted to sit Cobb during Sunday’s regular-season finale in an effort to have him healthy for the start of the playoffs.

Sunday's loss means that journey will begin this Saturday at 7 p.m. in a rubber match with the Vikings, whom they’ll be playing for the third time in 35 days.

More will be known on Cobb’s status when the Packers return to practice on Tuesday afternoon, but all indications are the plan is to have Cobb back in the fold, especially after he seemed to be cutting fine on his ankle during his limited practice on Friday.

During his Monday news conference, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said one of the reasons for holding Cobb out against the Vikings had to do with the surface of the Metrodome’s field turf, which several Packers players slipped on during the opening drives.

"He was close, but he wasn’t ready,” said McCarthy during his Monday morning news conference. “Part of the decision not to play Randall was the surface and just the ability for lateral movements. We’ll see how he is (Tuesday).”

McCarthy has been steadfast about the team sticking with Cobb as its primary kickoff and punt returner for the rest of the season, but first-year wide receiver Jeremy Ross continued to fill-in admirably in relief of Cobb.

After notching a 58-yard punt return when Cobb exited in the fourth quarter of last week’s 55-7 win over the Titans, Ross amassed another 127 total yards on Sunday, including an explosive second-quarter effort to help ignite the team’s sputtering offense.

While the Packers couldn’t do anything with his first 44-yard kickoff return, Ross’ 32-yard punt return with a little more than 9 minutes left in the half put Green Bay at the Minnesota 42 and buoyed the team’s first scoring drive to cut the deficit to 13-7.

Assuming Cobb checks out OK from his ankle, McCarthy plans to work both he and Ross in the return game during practice this week, but said they won’t make a final determination till game time.

Whether the Packers decide to hold to their declaration to stick with Cobb, there's no question Ross’ performance over the past two weeks has injected a greater level of confidence in the 24-year-old, who was signed to the team’s practice squad in October before being promoted to the active roster at the start of December.

“We’re not making decisions today,” McCarthy said. “We have to see where Randall is health-wise. I feel good that Jeremy Ross, in that environment, just went in there and played football. I thought he was exceptional, breaking tackles and ran hard with instinct and did a nice job. I thought we blocked very well for him on the two returns that came out.”

McCarthy confirmed the Packers will practice during their usual off-day on Tuesday because of the shortened week.

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