Packers’ Cobb returns to practice with free agency looming
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Cleared from the concussion protocol, receiver Randall Cobb expects to play in the Green Bay Packers’ season finale.
It could be his final game with the team.
“I’m human so I can’t say that it hasn’t crossed my mind,” Cobb said on Thursday.
A second-round pick in 2011, Cobb had a big 2014 season with 91 catches for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns. That led to Cobb signing a four-year, $40 million contract in free agency.
He’s never gotten close to matching that production, though, with a total of 16 touchdowns the past four seasons. He started this season with a bang, tallying nine catches for 142 yards, including the game-winning, 75-yard touchdown reception against Chicago in Week 1.
However, Cobb has missed six games with a hamstring injury before sitting out last week with a concussion. He enters Sunday with just 37 catches for 356 yards and two touchdowns.
With that, free agency will beckon once more for the 28-year-old Cobb, who ranks sixth in franchise history with 469 receptions.
“It’s not at the forefront of my thoughts,” he said. “I would say right now I’m just taking it all in, just enjoying the moments like I always do. The crazy thing about this game is every time we take that field, it could be the last time that we play. I’ve never taken for granted. Every time I walk through the tunnel — even when I’m taking somebody on a tour like my family or friends — I cherish that moment.”
Cobb has one key supporter in quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Packers haven’t had someone who can replace Cobb in the slot, and the offense has suffered as a consequence.
When Cobb has been out of the lineup, the Packers have had to lean heavily on rookie receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown. Without the rapport that Rodgers shares with Cobb, they’ve produced sporadically.
“We’ve always enjoyed going to war with each other,” Cobb said of Rodgers. “He’s my quarterback, you know? It’s been a lot of fun. It means a lot to me.”
Cobb and linebacker Clay Matthews will be the team’s two high-profile free agents. A first-round pick in 2009, Matthews has spent all 10 seasons with the Packers.
“I think everybody wants to be with one team the entirety of their career, Matthews said. “If that’s what it’s in the cards, fantastic. If not, I’ll deal with that once it presents itself.”
Matthews has 83½ sacks, the team’s most since the NFL made sacks an official stat in 1982. However, as is the case with Cobb, he’ll enter free agency on a down note with a career-low 3½ sacks this season.
“I think I’ve done a real good job of just focusing on this season and nothing beyond,” Matthews said. “I think I learned that at a younger age. ... Obviously, I’m not oblivious to the fact that I could be somewhere else next year, but it’s not like I’ll be an emotional wreck on Sunday.”
Cobb is just happy to be finishing after suffering a concussion late in the Week 15 game at Chicago. He said he doesn’t remember the final three snaps he played and has about 10 minutes of “amnesia.”
He missed last week’s win at the Jets and returned to practice on Thursday. He plans to play against the Lions.
“I’ve had a punctured lung, I’ve had a broken leg, and I’ve come back and played and not thought about those things,” he said. “I would consider this to be another thing that whenever I take the field, I’m worried about that moment. I’m not worried about what’s happened in the past, which is hard to do.”
NOTES: Both Cobb and Matthews (back) were limited in their returns to practice. ... LT David Bakhtiari (hip) was also limited in returning to practice. ... CB Jaire Alexander (groin) and WR Davante Adams (knee) missed a second day of practice, though Adams has said that he plans to play on Sunday.