GREEN BAY - Randall Cobb felt like he was back in his college days during the Green Bay Packers' win Sunday at the Chicago Bears.
On three snaps, Cobb lined up at quarterback in the wildcat formation and ran with the football. It’s something the Packers rarely have shown during Cobb’s seven seasons.
Cobb said the Packers have been working on the wildcat “a couple weeks now” in practice.
“I’ve been waiting on it for seven years,” Cobb said. “It was fun to be back there a little bit.”
There was one significant difference from his college days. Unlike at Kentucky, where Cobb said the offense got roughly 40 percent of its production from the wildcat, the Packers looked like a team that wasn’t used to running the formation.
In order, Cobb’s three runs generated gains of minus-1, 6 and 3 yards, an average of 2.6 yards per carry.
“We’ve got some work to do with that,” Cobb said. “We didn’t line up correctly a couple times. We didn’t execute the play like we wanted to a couple times. So if we’re going to continue to do that, then we’ve got to clean it up a little bit.”
The Packers might not have much choice but to continue mixing in the wildcat formation. With rookie running back Aaron Jones and top backup Ty Montgomery dealing with injuries, the Packers are thin in the backfield. Quarterback Brett Hundley is also nursing a hamstring injury, which could persuade the Packers to limit his exposure to contact.
With rookie Jamaal Williams’ emergence Sunday, the Packers appear equipped to have a running back handle the bulk of carries. But they might continue asking Cobb to give them a handful of snaps in the backfield. Even if the wildcat is relatively new, the Packers have used Cobb as an emergency running back in the past.
“We’ll see what happens with that,” Cobb said. “Jamaal played great yesterday. He stepped in and gave us some hard running that we needed, picked up some big first downs for us. That’s not necessarily my job, but depending on what the team needs, I’m happy to get back there.
So I think we’ll find a balance that works for us.”
Rain check: The excuse Packers special teams coordinator Ron Zook heard from his punt returner, he said, was the rain got in his eyes.
Hard as it was to believe, Zook watched second-year receiver Trevor Davis retreat from the 12-yard line all the way into the end zone Sunday. He then watched Davis, head still high looking for the ball, field the punt 1 yard behind the goal line.
It’s something a punt returner almost never does. Zook said the Packers instruct their punt returners to retreat 4 yards from the 12. If the punt is still over their head, a returner is told to let it drop.
Davis did not let it drop.
“Obviously, No. 1, he cannot catch the ball in that situation,” Zook said. “His comment to me was, ‘Well, coach, the rain was in my eyes.’ And I said, ‘Well, that can’t happen.’ Occasionally, you see it. You don’t see it real often. But that can’t happen.”
As bad as the play was, Zook said it almost worked. The Packers were one block by cornerback Kevin King from busting a long return, Zook said. Instead, Davis returned it 9 yards, advancing only to the 8-yard line – 12 yards back from where the Packers would get possession with a touchback.
Even if the return was just one block away from busting loose, Zook said it’s not worth attempting.
“You don’t do that,” Zook said. “You don’t even mess with the ball back there. You don’t want to be in that situation.”
Back again: Linebacker Derrick Mathews’ time off the Packers' roster didn’t last long. The third-year linebacker was signed to the practice squad Monday after being released Saturday. He’d been on the Packers' practice squad all of this season, as well as late last season.