No kickoffs for Packers' Cobb; could there be no kickoffs in NFL, period?
Jayme Snowden, Packers contributor
Wide receiver Randall Cobb.Photo: Image by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers are considering taking steps to remove a dangerous kick returner from his job. Ironically, the NFL may be simultaneously considering taking the often-dangerous kick return out of the game itself.
Packers WR Randall Cobb is an explosive kick returner. He burst onto the seen in his first NFL game with a 108 yard return against the New Orleans Saints in 2011.
Since then, Cobb has had a firm grasp on the kick returner job, helping give the Packers great field position and racking up over 1900 yards in two years on kick returns.
In 2011, Cobb was a returner and then a receiver. He gained more than three times as many yards returning both punts and kicks than he did as a wide out.
But in 2012, Cobb became a more integral part of the Packers offense. With injuries to both Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson, Cobb was in on 56% of the Packers offensive plays in 2012 and was targeted 104 times.
After contributing just shy of a 1,000 receiving yards to the team, and rising in the ranks of the wide receivers there was a push to take Cobb off of kickoff returns.
Why risk what was becoming a valuable offensive assest?
After Jeremy Ross’s costly mistake of muffing a punt last post season, the Packers have tried a variety of players at returner.
A week into camp, no one has stepped up and taken the job away from Cobb. But the NFL might have another solution for the Packers.
Football is a dangerous game and kickoffs are the most dangerous.
In the 2011 season the NFL moved kick offs up five yards and found that the following year, there were 40% fewer concussions on kickoffs.
In December of 2012, NFL Commission Roger Goodell floated the idea of eliminating kickoffs all together.
While the returner is the focus of the play, kickoffs are just as dangerous for the other players on the field.
Gunners, blockers, players barreling down the field full speed; in 2010 the injury rate on kickoffs was 2%, a higher percentage than any other type of play.
When players take the field for the 2013 Pro Bowl, there will be something noticeably absent. There will be no kickoffs.
In a meaningless game, what’s the point of having the most dangerous play?
But is the NFL testing the waters in the Pro Bowl to see if eliminating the kickoff is a viable option across the board?
The Packers might be looking for a new returner for the 2013 season, but is it possible that the kick returner job won’t exist after 2013?