GREEN BAY – Randall Cobb is not full strength, but the Packers’ star receiver vowed to do whatever it takes to play on Sunday in Chicago.
“Obviously, I’m going to be dealing with a lot of pain, but that’s part of it,” Cobb said of the shoulder sprain that sidelined him for the final week of the preseason. “I’m just going to work through this week and try to get ready. I have to be out there for my teammates.”
Listed as a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice, Cobb expects to be dealing with some limitations for a few weeks. He said his catching radius isn’t what it normally is, and he’s trying different types of padding to help protect his shoulder.
Once game time rolls around, though, any concerns and experiments have to cease, at least temporarily.
“I’m going to do my best to fall a certain way and fall the right way, but I can’t help it if a guy lands on top of me,” Cobb said. “I’m going to do everything I can to protect myself, but I have to play fearless. I’ve always been a fearless player.”
His teammates have come to expect that attitude from Cobb, who has only missed two games in his career outside of an extended absence in 2013 due to a broken leg.
“It means he’s a Packer,” QB Aaron Rodgers said. “That’s how we do things. We lace it up, put our bodies on the line for our team. It’s a tough injury for him.”
The need for Cobb to play is obvious as the offense embarks on its first game without Jordy Nelson since December 2012.
It helps that the offensive line is healthy. Center Corey Linsley was the only member of the starting unit not to deal with some kind of injury in training camp, with left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) and right guard T.J. Lang (concussion) missing the most time. Left guard Josh Sitton and right tackle Bryan Bulaga also nursed minor ankle injuries.
Not a single member of the offensive line is listed on the injury report this week, though, so it appears to be all systems go. Until Wednesday, the starting unit hadn’t taken any snaps together since early August, but internally there are no concerns about continuity and cohesiveness for the opener. The first of the week’s three practices was a positive step.
“We have 16 regular-season games we can build off of as a unit,” Bakhtiari said, referring to last season. “We’ve all grown together.
“To me, (Wednesday’s practice) kind of felt like riding a bike again. Going out there, me and Josh, we felt good, we felt synced up, which was nice. Same thing with Corey, hearing his declarations and everything. It just felt very fluid. It just doesn’t feel like a beat missed.”
Rodgers and veteran receiver James Jones are getting back in tune as well, as Jones practiced with his old QB for the first time. Jones said other than a few new plays and signals, he doesn’t feel there’s a lot of catching up to do. His chemistry with Rodgers won’t return overnight, but he chalked up Wednesday to a good first effort.
Rodgers was all smiles discussing what it meant to have a player he called one of his favorite teammates back on the field. He referred to the “stability” Jones brings to the receiving corps and to all the trust he built up with Jones over the years. Rodgers didn’t sound as though he’d have any reservations about targeting him sooner than later.
“It might take a little bit to get back with the terminology and the route-running and stuff, but we played together for a long time, completed a lot of passes to him, a lot of touchdowns,” Rodgers said. “I feel good about him being out there.”
Jones is a far more familiar face to Rodgers than some of the Bears defenders he’s been studying. Gone are longtime stalwarts such as Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman, along with Chicago’s traditional 4-3 scheme.
New coordinator Vic Fangio has installed a 3-4 that features free-agent acquisition Pernell McPhee as a primary pass rusher, veteran Jared Allen at a new position (outside linebacker) and rookie Eddie Goldman on the nose.
“You look at that roster, there’s not a lot of names you recognize playing against,” Rodgers said. “A lot of times when you get in these games, you’ve played against them so many times, the same defenses, it’s more just a refined preparation.
“But this is kind of like when you’re playing one of those every-four-year games against the AFC East or South opponent that you don’t see a whole lot, so you have to put some extra preparation in.”
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