Packers receiver Randall Cobb feeling no pressure in return trip to playoffs
GREEN BAY - Randall Cobb caught the ball with his back to the end zone. As he turned, scoring on the Los Angles Rams in Week 12, linebacker Troy Reeder laid a hit on Cobb’s side, attempting to knock him out of the end zone. It didn’t work, but the damage was done.
Talking about the injury Thursday for the first time since it occurred, Cobb shared he felt something “pop or tear” on the hit. Teammates Allen Lazard and Davante Adams bared down in celebration soon after, knocking Cobb back and forth, unknowingly worsening what would later be labeled a core muscle injury.
Core muscle injuries require surgery, but aren’t the worst in the game to come back from. Cobb shared on Thursday he was ready to play after five weeks thanks to a mixture of rehab and yoga, but having extra time helped with his recovery. Now, seven weeks out from the injury, Cobb has been activated off of injured reserve and will play Saturday as the Green Bay Packers take on the San Francisco 49ers in an NFC divisional playoff game.
“I'm not going to be overzealous about my situation,” Cobb said. “This is easy … there's people out there that’s going through real-life things. Single mothers trying to raise two kids. What I did to get back is not a big deal. I'm coming back to play a football game.”
Still, this game has shaped Cobb’s life and on Saturday, he has an opportunity to add another layer to his legacy. He has an opportunity to prove the sacrifices along the way were worth the cost.
“People may look at me and see a millionaire and think about all the money that I've made but I grew up in a trailer park," Cobb said. "I grew up in the hood. I grew up in a neighborhood where I heard gunshots all the time. I've seen a lot of things in my life and my parents have went through a lot. They sacrificed a lot for me to play sports.
“I remember having a playbook as a 7-year-old and studying that playbook. It's those little things and when you get to this moment, you get to this level of your career, and you look back on all the memories, and I think about my kids and what kind of legacy I want to leave for them.”
Keeping things in perspective helps the veteran receiver approach this playoff run with more appreciation than those of his past. Specifically, those he spent on the couch, believing he was part of the Packers' problem.
“When I got drafted here (in 2011) it was right after the Super Bowl. We went 15-1, I thought we were going (to the Super Bowl) that year. I thought we were going in ‘14. Obviously ’16, the loss in Atlanta, and I haven't been there since then. And I've been watching from the couch.
“It was hard and I was definitely in a dark place when they played the 49ers in San Francisco (in the 2019 title game) because in my mind I'm like ‘man, they won the year before I got there and they are getting ready to go the year after I left,' so I must have been the problem, it must have been me.”
Instead, as Aaron Rodgers pushed the front office this offseason to put together a Super Bowl-worthy team, he demanded Cobb, his teammate from 2011-18, be on the roster.
“It gives you all the confidence in the world," Cobb said. "One of the best players in the history of the game is asking for you, saying he needs you. And some people may look at it as pressure, but for me, I just look at it as he trusts me.”
Cobb called it potentially “a storybook ending.” But the pressure to make it come to fruition is absent. Instead, Rodgers' trust and memories of all those years on the couch are preparing Cobb for this playoff run.
“I don’t see it as pressure. I’m so thankful for this game and everything it’s given me but I've lost in these moments so many times. I'm not going to put that pressure on myself because I've done it before. I'm going to go out there and I’m going to play ball, I'm going to do what I know how to do.”
Packers could get playoff roster boost
The Packers' roster won’t be set until Friday afternoon for Saturday’s game with the 49ers, but there’s potential for a replenished lineup. Left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) is listed as “questionable”, wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (back) is listed as “doubtful” and offensive tackle Billy Turner (knee) will play, coach Matt LaFleur said.
Running back Aaron Jones (knee) and linebacker De’Vondre Campbell (elbow) were both full participants all week.
If linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Whitney Mercilus, who are still on injured reserve, are to play Saturday, the club will activate them by Friday afternoon.
Bakhtiari saw his first action in a year after an ACL injury, playing 27 snaps versus the Detroit Lions in the regular-season finale. He has since practiced in three out of six opportunities. LaFleur said Bakhtiari is “working his tail off” and the team will see where he’s at come game time as to whether he plays.
Cornerback Jaire Alexander (shoulder) is already on the active roster but is listed as “questionable” and hasn’t played since Oct. 3. If he, Bakhtiari, Mercilus and Smith are all ready to play Saturday, in addition to Turner and Cobb now back on the active roster, there will have to be some roster juggling from the Packers to get down from the active 53-man roster to the 48-man game-day roster.
“It’s been very difficult,” LaFleur said Thursday of the decisions. “Especially if you truly do have players that are questionable and just the ripple effect that each guy adds to some of the decisions that you’re making. These are good problems to have, that you feel confident in more than just your 48 guys. Unfortunately there’s going to be some guys that aren’t going to suit up that we’d love to have up on game days.
“I think certainly, a lot of these decisions that especially you’re talking to your final few roster spots, are going to be determined by special teams as well.”
Campbell had other free-agency options
It is important to linebacker De’Vondre Campbell for people to know that when he was a free agent this offseason, he had offers from more teams than the Packers.
Campbell was coming off what he said others perceived as a down year, but those who did their homework should have known he had dealt with some injuries in Arizona in 2020. He said a lot of people had counted him out.
But he said when it came to offers, there were several. He said he just wanted to make sure he was going to a place where he could succeed.
“I had several teams calling me, probably about five or six, but I turned them down,” he said. “I was just looking for the right situation. That's a rumor that's been going around that I want to kind of clarify is very false. I had offers, but I just didn't feel like (there) was a good situation for me, kind of like the Arizona situation.”
Campbell said the Packers were open about how they wanted to use him and that’s why he accepted their offer.