'Swiss Army Knife' Slices Cardinals

Randall Cobb did a little of everything and got an unselfish helping hand from one of the team's veteran stars during a 202-yard, two-touchdown performance.

His coach called him a playmaker. His quarterback called him a weapon. And 70,000-plus fans at Lambeau Field called his name at the top of their lungs.

Randall Cobb's nickname is "R.C.," but all things considered, he probably needs something a little more exciting.

Cobb piled up 202 total yards on 12 touches Sunday — a 16.8-yard average — during Green Bay's 31-17 dismantling of the Arizona Cardinals. The second-year phenom rushed three times for 29 yards, caught three passes for 37 yards and two touchdowns, returned three kicks for 90 yards and took back three punts for 46 yards.

"It should've been more," Cobb said in all seriousness. "I dropped a few balls. I gotta make those plays, too."

"Captain Humble" is not a good nickname. And Cobb's right, he did have a couple drops, including a ball he probably should have caught that cornerback William Gay pulled off his chest for an interception. But considering everything and every way Cobb contributed, it's forgivable if he didn't cash in on every opportunity.

Coming into Sunday's contest, Cobb was the only player in the NFL with 400-plus receiving yards (463), 400-plus kickoff return yards (466), 150-plus punt return yards (165) and 50-plus rushing yards. In taking on a bigger role through a combination of injuries to starters Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson, along with an increased emphasis to involve him in the offense, Cobb has shown the kind of multifaceted dominance he displayed in college.

The former Kentucky Wildcat was a first-team All-America as an all-purpose player his junior year, set the SEC single-season record for all-purpose yards with 2,396, racked up 207 total yards and four touchdowns in a near-upset of 2010 eventual national champion Auburn, and was a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award as the most versatile player in the country.

"Captain Versatility" sounds better. Or maybe the "Swiss Army Knife." That's got some definite potential.

"Randall Cobb is a playmaker, that's how we view him," coach Mike McCarthy said. "Playmakers need the ball in their hands. He gives you great flexibility as far as where you can play him. He's continued to get better as a receiver week in and week out."

You could argue that Cobb's first touchdown of the day was a play that only a player with his unique combination of burst and balance could make. And it was a play that wasn't even meant for him.

As Green Bay broke the huddle on third-and-goal from the Cardinals' 13-yard line following a penalty, the call was for veteran Donald Driver to line up on the outside and come down hard across the middle looking for the ball, with Cobb blocking down inside. Instead, the elder statesman of the Packers' receiving corps — whose decrease in reps has been in direct proportion to Cobb's increase — made the kind of classy call that few veterans would make: He switched routes with Cobb.


Randall Cobb beats William Gay for the TD. Benny Sieu/US Presswire

"That's supposed to be Donald out there and he pushed me out there and told me, ‘Go get it, kid," Cobb said. "And he made a great block for me and sprung me and got me in a one-on-one with the safety and I was able to make him miss and get in the end zone.

"That shows you how much of a team player he is and how great he is for this organization. When I got back to the sideline, I was confused, I was like, ‘Why did you give me that?' That just shows how great of a player and person he is. He was like, ‘I knew you were going to get it.'"

Two plays after Nelson limped off the field, Cobb cut hard to the middle, snatched Rodgers' pass out of the air as Driver shoved Gay out of the way. Cobb sliced through six defenders, spinning away from strong safety Adrian Wilson at the 4 before dragging cornerback Patrick Peterson across the goal line for the score.

The interception by Gay came on the first play of the second quarter as he and Cobb dove for a low pass at midfield. Arizona would score three plays later to tie the game, 7-7, but Cobb was far from done.

Cobb picked up 23 yards in the span of three plays when he lined up in the backfield and took off around right end. He was one of four Packers getting carries on a day when they busted out of their rushing slump with a season-best 176 yards.

"That package makes matchup problems for the defense and we just try to exploit it in different ways," Cobb said. "We were able to make some big plays out of that package today and I think it opened up the running game a little bit more because they were looking at where we were going to be on the field, where we were going to line up. They didn't know what package we were in, so it made it a little harder on the defense."

Of course, some things are much more straight-forward. With everyone on the Cardinals' defense playing, "Where's Randall?," Rodgers went to the no-huddle, taking a shotgun snap on first-and-10 at the Arizona 21. Lining up in the slot, Cobb streaked down the right sideline just barely ahead of Gay. Rodgers laid out a perfect pass that Cobb pulled in with outstretched arms as he crossed into the end zone for score No. 2, giving the Packers a lead they'd never relinquish.

"That was a big ball. Aaron threw a great ball and put it in a place where the defender couldn't make a play," said Cobb, who left the game briefly with a shoulder stinger. "It was either me or nobody, and I was able to make a play on it and get my feet in, and it was a big score for us at that moment."

The second half opened with a 44-yard kickoff return by Cobb that had the potential to go the distance. It wasn't the only return that had fans holding their breath. Cobb's first punt return of the day was a 28-yarder that featured a decleating block by backup tight end Ryan Taylor. Cobb did say that he left some yards on the field. But no one's complaining.

"He's a mismatch problem for a lot of people," Jones said. "He can play wide receiver, running back, kickoff return, punt return and does them all well. He's not just good at punt returning, he's a great receiver. Having him on our team, it's going to be tough to stop us."

And Cobb's relishing his expanded role as the 6-3 Packers head into a much-needed bye week.

"I love the game, man," he said, exhausted, but beaming. "As long as I'm on the field and contributing and helping, that's all I can ask for."

That and maybe a week off.


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W. Keith Roerdink has covered the Packers since 1992. E-mail him at karoer@msn.com.


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