Green Bay Packers receiver Randall Cobb has 'significant' core muscle injury and will be out for 'a while'
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers will not have receiver Randall Cobb during a key December stretch due to a core muscle injury he suffered against the Los Angeles Rams on Nov. 28.
Coach Matt LaFleur said that Cobb suffered “a pretty significant injury” and would be out for “a while.”
ESPN reported later that Cobb had surgery last week. The Packers have not put Cobb on injured reserve, so they may feel he can return in less than three weeks, but it's also possible they'll make the move at the end of the week.
The Packers listed the injury as a core muscle and will keep their fingers crossed that it isn’t as severe as what Allen Lazard and several other former Packers receivers and cornerbacks have suffered over the years. The Packers have typically sent players to Philadelphia area surgeon William Meyer, who specializes in core muscle repairs.
Lazard missed six games with the injury last year after Meyer performed the surgery, so it's possible Cobb's season is done.
Either way, he won’t play Sunday against the Chicago Bears, forcing LaFleur to do some shuffling to replace him when he lines up in the slot.
"It's really going to be everybody,” LaFleur said. “And that can change on a weekly basis. But we'll use Allen in there a little bit. We'll use ‘EQ’ (Equanimeous St. Brown), (he’s) been playing really well as of late, and not only on offense, but on special teams as well.
“And then we'll continue to move Davante (Adams) around and put him in there a little bit.”
Cobb ranks third on the team in receptions with 28 catches for 375 yards and five touchdowns. He has played in 47% of the offensive snaps in 12 games and serves as the team’s backup punt returner behind rookie Amari Rodgers.
Cobb’s best game of the year was against the Rams when he caught four passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. It was on the touchdown catch that he suffered the injury and left the game.
“That's unfortunate because I thought he's done such an amazing job,” LaFleur said Thursday. “When given the opportunity, I think a lot of this — we're talking about just his targets on third down alone — he was 8 of 10 when he got targeted in converting first downs.”
LaFleur said that Rodgers will be in the mix for replacing Cobb, but since he is a rookie and has not been part of the offense much this season, he won’t be the exclusive slot receiver. Rodgers was drafted in the third round to compete for the slot position, but after general manager Brian Gutekunst gave in to quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ demand to trade for Cobb, Rodgers became mostly a special teams player.
Gutekunst gave up a sixth-round pick for Cobb and is paying him $5.25 million this year. Cobb, 31, has missed 18 games over the past six years, including 14 since 2018.
“As far as Amari is concerned, I think he is still a young player, and he's still growing and he's going to get better,” LaFleur said. “We’ve got a lot of high expectations for him to continue to grow and develop. And, you know, I do think he'll get more opportunity.”
Alexander shows some progress
The injury riddled Packers took a couple of steps forward Thursday, as Jaire Alexander strung together a second day of practice. The fourth-year corner continued to test his shoulder injury, working to return for the Packers final regular-season five game stretch, and postseason run.
Alexander was placed on injured reserve following Week 4, so this return to practice opens up the three week re-acclimation period and window, during which he can return to the active roster. After taking on light duty during Wednesday’s practice, Alexander participated in defensive back drills during the open media viewing portion Thursday.
He also donned a helmet, which was not seen Wednesday. According to coach Matt LaFleur, that addition was more logistical than medical.
“He was having some issues with his helmet (on Wednesday) so he didn’t, he hasn't put it on in a while,” LaFleur said. “So we got to get that rectified.”
The return of the helmet was indicative though of another step forward for Alexander, in his quest to get back on the field this season.
The club continues to believe it will return linebacker De’Vondre Campbell this week. Campbell was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Nov. 30, allowing him to return after a 10-day quarantine before Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears. LaFleur told reporters Thursday that Campbell won’t be at practice Friday, but will be in the building this weekend.
"I can't remember if he comes back tomorrow or Saturday?” he said. “I think it's tomorrow and then … if I remember correctly, he's got to go through the protocol of that.”
Asked if Campbell will play vs. the Bears if cleared, LaFleur said “absolutely.”
LaFleur himself was sporting a mask Thursday and clarified he was following protocol as a close contact: “I was in close contact on Monday. So it is what it is.”
The Packers placed quarterback Jordan Love on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday. As a vaccinated player, he can return after six days, if two negative tests are returned within 24 hours.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers (toe), Cobb (core) and tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) were the only injury related non-participants during Thursday’s practice. Adams (hamstring) was listed as a limited participant.
Drayton finds self-scout nuggets
With his special teams unit a mixed bag in his first season as coordinator, Maurice Drayton had plenty to self-scout over the Packers’ bye week.
Drayton highlighted three primary discoveries, two from a punt-protection standpoint. No opponent pressured the Packers on punts from their own 20- to 29-yard line, Drayton said. “Which I thought was really odd,” he added. There was also no difference in how often the Packers faced pressure on fourth-and-1 compared to fourth-and-long.
“Which I found to be odd,” Drayton said, “but I understand the reasoning why. First-year coordinator, they’re going to test our temperature to see if we’re shored up in protection, regardless of down or distance.”
Drayton left the biggest revelation to last. Across the league, he said, teams have combined to miss an astounding 181 field goals or extra-point attempts this season. That’s an average of 5.6 misses per team with still roughly a quarter of the season left.
The Packers have not been without their kicking problems. Mason Crosby has missed nine field goals and an extra point, his 10 total misses the most he’s had in a season since 2012. Drayton said he has a “hypothesis” for why so many kicks have been missed, though he hasn’t confirmed it yet, and it doesn’t seem to explain the Packers’ woes.
“I think because of salary-cap issues,” Drayton said, “people have gone with younger specialists. And I think to be a great specialist in this league, it takes time, and you typically want to have older guys.”
Douglas devoted to study hall
Coaches have raved about cornerback Rasul Douglas’ study habits and said it’s one of the reasons he has been able to come in during the season and fill in for starters Jaire Alexander and Kevin King.
Douglas, who clinched the victory in Arizona with a last-second interception and made the biggest defensive play of the game against the Los Angeles Rams with a pick-six, is with his fifth NFL team and said it was Carolina secondary coach Jason Simmons, a former Packers assistant, who hammered into him the importance of watching tape the right way.
He said Packers passing game coordinator Jerry Gray has helped him take it to the next level.
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry said there are times he has come down to the cafeteria late at night and Douglas will be sitting at a table alone studying tape on his tablet. Douglas said he’ll stay as long as he can mentally and physically handle it.
“Like if my eyes start getting sleepy, if I’m saying to myself, ‘I need a coffee,’ it’s time to go,” Douglas said. “But (Gray) does a good job of putting cutups on my iPad so that I can keep watching and keep seeing it and knowing what I’m seeing.
“So, when I go out on the field it’s like, ‘OK, I’ve seen that before.’”