GREEN BAY—Randall Cobb definitely feels better about his play now than he did a month ago.
He’s just not sure exactly what changed.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Cobb said on Thursday. “I feel like I’m in a groove right now. I feel good. My body feels good, and I’m just trying to continue to play as well as I can for this team.”
His contributions have been enormous lately. Coming off a strong postgame self-critique in Detroit in Week 3, Cobb broke out with seven catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns the following week in Chicago.
When he stuck his foot in the ground and changed direction on a dime to juke Bears rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller, he showed for the first time this season his game was more than just running routes and catching passes. He was a dynamic playmaker again.
In recent weeks, he has connected with quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the scramble drill multiple times, most notably in Miami for a 5-yard TD pass as Rodgers shook free from the pass rush.
Cobb’s tackle-breaking moves continued this past Sunday against Carolina as he turned two short throws into long gains, posting six grabs for 121 yards, the second-highest single-game yardage total of his career.
“You just kind of get in a zone,” Cobb said. “It’s like a runner’s high, or writing an exam paper and you’re on page 7, and the next thing you know you’re on page 12. It’s just one of those things where you continue to press on, and things happen.”
Cobb made a triumphant return from the broken leg that sidelined him for 10 games last season by catching the game-winning, fourth-down TD pass in Chicago to win the NFC North in Week 17, but no plays early this season even approached that one. He doesn’t know why, but he does know he’s in a better place mentally now than when the year began.
“I think I was pressing a little bit too much early on this season, trying to do too much, instead of just being myself and doing what I do, just relaxing and playing ball,” he said.
It’s not as though he was a liability early on, but something was missing. Through three games, he caught 14 passes, three for TDs, but his yards per catch was just 9.0, a full four yards below his career number of 13.0 coming into 2014.
Over the last four games, starting in Chicago, his average has jumped to 15.5 yards on 21 grabs, and he has added five more TDs to rank second in the league with eight, behind only Denver’s Julius Thomas (nine).
All but one of Cobb’s TD catches has come from inside the 10-yard line, an indication Rodgers trusts him in tight spaces. Adding the long open field catch-and-runs lately has made him a weapon defenses must account for anywhere, anytime.
“Randall does a good job of creating space down there (in the red zone),” Rodgers said. “We’ve fit some tight throws and he’s also made some really quick moves at the line of scrimmage.
“We just have to keep finding ways to get him the ball in space, because like you saw last game, he makes a lot of plays when he has one-on-one opportunities in space.”
He nearly broke free on the punt return last week, too, taking his first attempt back 14 yards and then another one 24. His occasional appearances in the offensive backfield or on a jet-sweep handoff haven’t produced much yet, but perhaps it’s only a matter of time.
“Randall needs to touch the football,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “That’s a focus of mine each and every week as we start the game-plan process. It doesn’t matter how you get it to him.”
It also doesn’t matter to Cobb what he’s done so far; he’s always going to push for more. As he admitted, his relentless drive may have worked against him a bit when the season began, but now that he’s found his “groove,” there’s no reason to look back.
“It’s never going to be good enough for me,” he said. “Like I’ve always said, I’m my biggest critic and every fault that I have I’m trying to correct every day, and I’m going to have them every day.
“Nothing’s ever good enough for me. I’m never satisfied.”
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - OCT. 23