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Cobb impressing in Packers' practices

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) - Randall Cobb didn't disappear when the
Green Bay Packers finally did some hitting in practice.
The second-round draft pick out of Kentucky made several nice
catches Monday night, the Packers' first training camp practice in
pads.
Although Cobb is expected to make his most immediate
contributions to the Packers as a returner, he also wants to prove
he can play wide receiver.
"I want to make an impact in any way I can and get us back to
the Super Bowl," Cobb said. "That's my first task is do whatever
the coaches feel that's needed of me to make sure we get back to
another Super Bowl. If that includes receiver, I'm happy to do
it."
It won't be easy. The Packers just re-signed free agent James
Jones to an already well-stocked group of wide receivers that
includes Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson. Playmaking
tight end Jermichael Finley is returning from an injury.
There are only so many passes to go around.
And while all those veteran players know the Packers' offense,
Cobb is still learning the finer points of playing receiver in the
NFL - and because of the lockout, he didn't have a typical
offseason of team-organized workouts to help him get acclimated.
"All of our young guys are struggling at this time of camp, and
that's normal," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "Randall's
everything that we thought he would be physically, and very bright.
He's very bright-eyed, communicates very well, and seems to be
picking things up pretty rapidly."
McCarthy said it will take time, and repeated practice snaps
with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, for Cobb to learn the finer points
of playing the position in the Packers' offense.
"Everybody plays football, everybody has similar plays,"
McCarthy said. "But it's the ability to `cheat' within the
particular play with anticipation, coverage recognition - all the
things that help a receiver be productive and create a smart path
to run a good route, create separation for the quarterback."
Cobb acknowledges that he was somewhat overwhelmed when he first
got his hands on the playbook.
"It was huge," Cobb said. "It was huge. It's not really as
bad as how it looks, it's just the terminology. I ran a lot of the
same plays and the same concepts in college but it's just the
terminology's a lot different."
Cobb said his background as a quarterback - the position he
played when he first came to Kentucky - is helping him grasp the
offense.
"It helps out a lot because I understand the progressions and I
understand what the quarterback's looking for," Cobb said. "Being
a route-runner, it helps me to know my spacing and how I need to
adjust my routes, depending on the coverages."
Cobb also is expected to contribute on special teams, both in
the return game and possibly as the holder on field goal attempts.
McCarthy said Monday that he currently is considering Cobb as
mainly a punt returner. Fellow rookie Alex Green, a third-round
running back out of Hawaii, will be in the mix as a kick returner.
The Packers also brought Shaky Smithson, one of the nation's
leading returners at Utah last season, in as an undrafted free
agent.
The attention is warranted: The Packers haven't run a punt back
for a touchdown since 2008, and haven't run a kickoff back for a
touchdown since Allen Rossum did it in a game against Indianapolis
on Nov. 19, 2000.
"I was 10 years old," Cobb noted.
Cobb has made a good impression on Jennings, but the veteran
wants to see more.
"I think he's learning really fast," Jennings said. "I think
he's a smart learner. It's hard to gauge without having those pads
on (before Monday) and you're looking at so many guys. But I think
he's definitely going to have an impact offensively and special
teams."
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Follow Chris Jenkins at www.twitter.com/ByChrisJenkins

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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