Cobb: Packers in 'playoff mode'
Gannett Wisconsin Media’s Brett Christopherson caught up with Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb, who looked ahead to Sunday’s Week 16 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:25 p.m.:
Individually, your versatility can pose matchup problems. And collectively, the ability to move you into the backfield can give the offense favorable looks based on personnel groupings. How fun is it for you to fill those different roles and be asked to provide that spark?
RC: I love it. I love being able to move around. That’s pretty much what I’ve done my entire career — going back to high school, going back to college and now here. Just being able to do different things and being able to help my team in different ways. I think it has been good for us, being able to create those matchup problems and being able to expose defenses in different ways.
What types of challenges do you see in going against a Cardinals defense that's allowing just 19.2 points per game and ranked seventh in the league overall?
RC: It’s definitely going to be a challenge. They have one of the best defenses in the league, and they have some really good players on the defensive side of the ball. That’s going to make it a challenge for us. (Defensive tackle) Calais Campbell up front — he’s a monster. You look at him physically, and he’s physically gifted. And that’s not all. He’s playing at a high level, and he’s continuing to get in the backfield and disrupt things. That back end, they have a lot of good talent with (cornerback) Patrick Peterson, and (cornerback Justin) Bethel. (Safety) Tyrann Mathieu is going to be out now, but they have a lot of great players, and it’s definitely going to be a challenge for us.
You mentioned Mathieu, who will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. He’s second on the team in tackles and among the NFL leaders in interceptions with five. Does his absence change your mindset in how you want to attack that defense?
RC: He’s a really great player. And actually, I really wish he could be out there. I think he’s a great player, and I haven’t had the opportunity to play against him. I love the way that he approaches the game, the way he plays the game — the passion that he plays with. I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a player. But with him being out, yeah, they’re going to have some guys in different spots that haven’t played as much this season. They’ve had opportunities, but they’re going to have to have some guys step up, and we’re going to study those guys. (Cornerback Jerraud) Powers, he’ll come in and play a little bit. (Tony) Jefferson at safety, he’ll come in. Those will be their two main guys that come in and fill those voids that they’ll be missing from Mathieu. It’s going to be important for us to just go out and attack the holes that we see in their defense and execute. It'll come down to our execution this week.
You got an early start on your preparation for Arizona, and it seems like the intensity and focus have been ramped up. Do you think there’s a larger purpose to that than simply getting ready for the Cardinals? There’s certainly a lot to play for in this game, but is Mike McCarthy also making sure everyone is in playoff mode already?
RC: It pretty much is playoff mode. There’s still some seeding. There’s going to be some shuffling. We want to do everything we can to put ourselves in the best position (for the playoffs). So we’re trying to take that approach and make sure that we handle business these next two weeks to put us in the best position we can possibly be in.
Last week, you called Raiders safety Charles Woodson an idol. This week, you’ll get a chance to watch longtime Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who remains an elite player in his 12th season. What do you admire most about the 32-year-old Fitzgerald and what he’s still able to do on the field?
RC: Man, another guy that I have tremendous respect for. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work out with him coming out before the draft. He’s a pro’s pro. He does what it means to be a pro. The way that he approaches the game. The way that he takes care of his body. The respect that he has for the game. The passion he has for the game. His drive. Obviously, he has the accolades, but I think the person that he is speaks volumes — much more than everything that he has done on the field. He’s a great player, but he’s a better man.
Brett Christopherson: 920-993-7117, or email@example.com; on Twitter @PCBrettC