Camp Clashes: Wide Receivers

Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones are the established stars but the Packers badly need someone to step in as a legit No. 4.

With the Green Bay Packers opening training camp on Friday, Packer Report takes a closer look at the wide receivers.

The star

Randall Cobb: Sophomore Jinx? What's that? Cobb set a franchise record for total yards and had an outside chance of breaking Darren Sproles' league record until spraining an ankle in Week 16. Cobb was the offense's best player not named Aaron Rodgers from Week 1, when he caught nine passes and returned a punt for a touchdown in a loss to San Francisco.

Cobb led the team with 80 receptions and 954 yards, and was second with nine total touchdowns. Based on the NFL's official stats, Cobb's catch rate of 76.9 percent ranked first among wide receivers. He even averaged 13.2 yards on his 10 carries, with seven rushes of 11-plus yards and the others going for 4, 5 and 6.

"He's a very good player and we're looking for ways to use him," offensive coordinator Tom Clements said. "He's a good pass receiver. He gets the ball in his hands and he can make things happen. We can put him in the backfield and he can run the ball. He can do a lot of different things. We're just trying to find different ways to do it, (to) get his hands on the ball, because he can make things happen."

The big battle

Nos. 4, 5 and(?) 6: Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones will be the focal points of the passing game. Who will join them in the rotation and give coach Mike McCarthy a viable four-receiver package?

The holdovers are Jarrett Boykin and Jeremy Ross. Boykin had five catches for 27 yards and Ross played eight offensive snaps and didn't have a pass thrown his way. Still, they're the front-runners, with receivers coach Edgar Bennett raving about Boykin's ability and with Ross being the front-runner to return kicks.

"You saw the ability to create some separation, you saw by way of his footwork, by way of his quickness, by way of being physical with his hands to get off of press and things like that," Bennett said of Boykin. "You start to see it showing up more and more, and it's something we'll continue to emphasize. That kid can play."

The other six are rookies. Seventh-round picks Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey sat out the offseason workouts due to undisclosed injuries. Myles White took advantage to rise above fellow undrafted rookies Tyrone Walker, Sederrick Cunningham and Alex Gillett.

The sleeper

Myles White: White, an undrafted rookie who played second fiddle to Quinton Patton at Louisiana Tech, caught the attention of Rodgers.

Rodgers pointed to White being "fast out of his breaks" and having "good hands." It was the intangible qualities, however, that stood out.

"I think he's got real good approach," Rodgers said. "He's had a real good spring. He's come in with a real good attitude. He reminds me, attitude-wise, of how Jeremy (Ross) was when Jeremy came in. He really wanted to learn as much as possible. He listens, he's very respectful, he watches guys like Randall and James and Jordy. He's just picking it up. He's got a long way t go. It's just helmets and shorts but he's been doing it the right way. I think a good start is very important. He's making a good impression with the coaches and I'm noticing him and obviously you're noticing him. It's been nothing but good things."

The long shot

Alex Gillett:

Gillett was a three-year starting quarterback at Eastern Michigan. He was benched as a senior and moved to receiver. All 14 of his receptions came in the final four games. Gillett went undrafted and earned tryout looks at Washington as a wide receiver and at Kansas City as a quarterback. That he ran some read-option and pistol at Eastern Michigan might give him a shot to stick on the practice squad.

The bottom line

Rodgers is a great quarterback but, let's be honest, he's had an impeccable group of receivers to work with, starting with veterans Donald Driver and Greg Jennings, and then being a part of Jones, Nelson and Cobb blossoming. The Packers badly need someone — anyone — to step up as a fourth receiver. The No. 4 receiver has been an integral part of the offense, with an average of 32 catches per season during Rodgers' five years. Boykin is the front-runner but it could be Ross or any of the rookies.

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

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