Of all the Green Bay Packers’ problems that were on display in a 31-26 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Randall Cobb’s role in the game wasn’t among the big ones.
The communication of this role - or, apparently more accurately, the lack of communication of his role - might be a bigger deal.
Cobb, who was inactive for last week’s game at Atlanta and questionable for Sunday, was active but didn’t play a single snap in the first half against the Colts.
“Randall Cobb, just impressed with the fact that he was able to be active for the game,” coach Mike McCarthy said after the game. “I think that says a ton about him. I personally was not expecting him to play. I took a conservative approach with him. I was going to use him only when we needed him. Obviously, we needed him in the second half and he gave us everything he’s got. Hopefully, he came out clean.”
McCarthy’s approach with Cobb was logical. The Packers moved the ball with relative ease without Cobb last week at Atlanta. If they could do it again at home against an equally porous Colts defense, why risk a star player?
But Cobb seemingly was left in the dark on the coach’s thinking. So was quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“I can’t answer that,” Cobb said of the coaching staff's thinking. “I was waiting for my number to be called. Obviously, there was some apprehension with my injury and we didn’t know for sure if I was going to be able to get out there. But once I was cleared, I didn’t quite know exactly what to expect so I just had to be prepared for my number.”
Rodgers said he “didn’t quite understand what Cobb’s status was.”
On Monday, however, McCarthy said the timing was a challenge. Cobb wasn’t a game-time decision but he was an inactives-list decision, with McCarthy saying “it was probably one of the latest times I’ve ever handed in the inactives.” That necessitated some late adjustments to the call sheet and probably led to some of the uncertainty.
While it was a beautiful fall night, with the kickoff high temperature a record for the city of Green Bay, Cobb said it was “really hard” to stay loose and limber on the sideline on a cool, damp evening.
Still, after not playing in the first half, Cobb played 23 snaps in the second half and scored a touchdown to pull the Packers within 5 points with three-and-a-half minutes. He finished the night with two catches for 14 yards. He fumbled on a running play on the first series of the third quarter, though the fumble was wiped off the books when the Colts accepted a holding penalty.
“That’s not on me to make that call,” Cobb said of the size of his role. “Of course, I would have loved to play a little bit more. I knew I wasn’t going to play as much as I normally did coming off an injury and missing last week. I didn’t quite know what to expect but just tried to help out the team as much as I could.”
On Monday, McCarthy said "we're moving forward" with Cobb's injury and he emerged from the game no worse for wear.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.