Packers Training Camp Countdown: 18 Days
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Packers Training Camp Countdown: 18 Days

Every day until the start of camp on July 26, we'll provide one juicy nugget to whet your appetite for the return of football. We'd give you more but the CBA forbids two-a-days. Sorry. Aaron Rodgers said Randall Cobb might catch 100 passes this season. That might be a modest goal.

Randall Cobb went from 25 catches as a rookie in 2011 to 80 catches in 2012.

Aaron Rodgers said 100 could be the progression in 2013.

And why not? Entering training camp last year, Cobb was just a budding talent who had earned a bigger role on the offense. He was not, however, a go-to threat. Entering training camp this year, not only has Cobb established himself as the Green Bay Packers' No. 1 receiver, but he's established himself as one of the NFL's top young stars.

The numbers speak themselves. Cobb's 80 receptions for 954 yards led the team, and they were part of Cobb leading the league and setting a franchise record with 2,342 total yards. Receiving, returning and even rushing, Cobb became the prized chess piece among a group of established, veteran playmakers on offense.

Still, Cobb hasn't fulfilled his immense promise.

"I think he definitely has a lot more growth in front of him," coach Mike McCarthy said. "And it's exciting, for how productive he's been as a young player."

Or, as receivers coach Edgar Bennett put it, "He can do so much more."

It starts with catching the ball consistently. About the only ding you can put on Cobb's 2012 resume are his 11 dropped passes. That ranked seventh among NFL receivers, according to ProFootballFocus.com. His drop rate of 12.1 percent of catchable passes ranked eighth.

If he can cut that number in half, Cobb will be up to 85 catches. If he can stay on the field for all 16 games rather than missing the final six quarters of the regular seasons, Cobb likely will add another five-plus catches. That would push him upward of 90. As a proven playmaker, Cobb likely won't have back-to-back one-catch games, like he did in Weeks 2 and 3. That could get him to the 100-catch target.

Now, consider Cobb's quickness gives him an edge in beating press coverage, and consider that Greg Jennings and Donald Driver no longer are in the picture, and it's easy to see how Cobb 100 receptions might actually be a modest goal.

Rodgers and Cobb have formed a special chemistry. In both seasons, Cobb finished second in the NFL among receivers in catch percentage, according to Pro Football Focus. With rates of 80.6 percent in 2011 and 78.4 percent in 2012, Cobb's two-year total is 78.9 percent. Percy Harvin is a distant second at 74.9 percent.

Once he gets the ball, Cobb is a nightmare for defenses. He finished ninth with 467 yards after the catch and fourth with 15 missed tackles, according to ProFootballFocus.com.

To improve his unit, Bennett has had his receivers studying other receivers around the league. That's been a benefit for Cobb, even after watching and learning from Driver and Co. for the past couple seasons.

"Being able to watch guys on film, watch their releases, watch how they beat certain coverages, how they beat man-to-man press with certain routes, the way they work out of their cuts on top of their breaks, just different things in their route-running principles that I'm trying to build on," Cobb said.

The big decision involving Cobb will be whether he'll remain in the return role in either a full- or part-time capacity. With only three proven receivers on the roster, it's logical that Cobb will be removed from return duty. However, the NFL is about field position and Cobb routinely delivers. He's the only player in NFL history with 900 receiving yards and 900 kickoff-return yards in one season.

"Really, his special-teams responsibility is really up to his teammates," McCarthy said. "There's opportunity there for others to compete and perform … and hopefully take Randall's place. Now, we've been very productive on special teams, (and) Randall is a big part of that. It's really the approach that I like to play the football game. Field position is an important statistic and it is an important component of winning football games. We're definitely a different team when Randall is a returner."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.