Fri, 24 Sep 2021

Returning to Green Bay and reuniting with QB Aaron Rodgers is emotional for the veteran receiver Mike Spofford

GREEN BAY - His return is emotional. His goal, unequivocal.

As veteran receiver Randall Cobb discussed coming back to Green Bay after two years away, he confessed some tears flowed while the trade was finalized Wednesday night.

He also appeared to momentarily suppress similar emotions in his remarks to reporters following his first practice back in his old uniform Thursday.

But there was no hesitation in explaining why he returned and where his focus resides.

"I don't care about how many snaps I get, I don't care how many catches, I don't care about how many yards, touchdowns," Cobb said. "I'm here to win a championship with a football team."

A beloved player and highly productive receiver over the first eight years of his career with the Packers (2011-18), Cobb is back at the behest of his quarterback and close friend, Aaron Rodgers.

Since Cobb departed for the state of Texas, playing for Dallas in 2019 and then Houston last season, the two have talked about playing together again. This past offseason, they also both talked about retirement, and in processing their passion and love for the game, a reunion became the stronger topic.

Initially broached back in February, it became part of the resolution between Rodgers and the front office, with General Manager Brian Gutekunst finalizing a deal for Cobb as training camp opened. When Cobb set foot in Lambeau Field again Wednesday night, the familiarity made him feel at home.

"It felt like I never left," he said, despite the changes within and around the stadium that had him taking it all in. "It felt like it was just another day. That was the realization for me, when I walked in and I was like, 'Wow, I'm actually here,' and it feels good to be back."

How exactly he'll function best in Head Coach Matt LaFleur's offense will be determined in time, but Cobb believes the scheme certainly fits his skills. The Packers see several roles for him, including locker room leader, slot receiver, and mentor to the long-term future at the position in third-round draft pick Amari Rodgers.

LaFleur expressed confidence Cobb would learn the offense quickly, complimenting his football acumen, and that he's got plenty to offer, referencing his eight catches for 95 yards for the Texans against the Packers in last season's matchup.

Cobb, who turns 31 next month, believes he still has a lot left as well and is more eager to show it than talk about it. If anything can maximize what remains in the 11th-year vet's career, it's probably catching passes from Aaron Rodgers again.

"Those guys have a lot of time on task together," LaFleur said. "They know each other well. I think his learning curve will be expedited because he's going to know all the little intricacies of Aaron. Those guys have such a connection, just like Davante (Adams) and I think a lot of our receivers now."

As for the younger Rodgers, Cobb was coached by Amari's father, Tee Martin, in college at Kentucky. He's known the rookie receiver since his early teen years, and they've stayed connected. Cobb has seen a kid with "a crazy work ethic" grow into a pro, with plenty more progress ahead of him.

A thought not lost on LaFleur, Cobb could have a tremendous influence on Amari's development, and he's more than willing to provide leadership in any way he's asked.

"I hope to be a part of that," Cobb said. "I hope that I can be what Greg Jennings and Donald Driver and those guys were for me. That's the approach that I've taken. I'm going to give him every tool that was given to me and we'll see what happens with him."

There's just as much curiosity surrounding Gutekunst's appeasing the three-time MVP QB with this move and how it will work out over the course of the season. All things considered, there's a fair amount riding on it, but on balance the potential rewards appear to outweigh any risks.

A total of 20 players on the Packers' current 90-man roster were teammates with Cobb in 2018 or prior, and smiles were shared throughout his welcome-back day. One of those came from tight end Robert Tonyan, who was just breaking into the league as Cobb was finishing his first stint in Green Bay, and he effectively summed up the positive vibes Cobb's return has provided.

"Honestly, I'm so happy, because for Aaron he gets one of his best friends back, and it's just like a morale booster for him," Tonyan said. "Randall just is a key piece. He's a great leader, he's a veteran. Everyone in the Packers organization knows who he is, and everyone coming in, even if they're young, they know who Randall Cobb is.

"So that's the big thing is, he has a lot of weight to his name. Good dude, great man off the field. I think it's just huge to have someone of that caliber in this locker room, and him being back home where he belongs."

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