Packers' Randall Cobb vows to play 'fearless' through injury
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Before a drill in Packers practice, Randall Cobb flexed his arms up and down at his side with his elbows bent as if he was doing a little dance.
Not a big deal usually in Green Bay. But for Cobb, it's a sign that slowly but surely, his sprained right shoulder is getting better.
It doesn't mean he won't be in some pain, though, when the Packers play the Chicago Bears in the season opener on Sunday at Soldier Field.
''I'm going to do everything I can to protect myself. But no, I have to play fearless,'' Cobb said.
The fifth-year receiver has vowed to be ready since falling hard on his side during a preseason game on Aug. 29 against Philadelphia. A defender landed on him during the incompletion.
Cobb sat out the final week of preseason practice. He returned to practice on Wednesday for the first time since getting hurt.
On Thursday, the team, including Cobb, was dressed in shoulder pads for the first time this week. He was limited in practice for a second straight day.
The range of motion isn't entirely there yet, Cobb said. He is trying out different types of padding and protective material to help guard the shoulder. He anticipates that he might be in pain at least for the next few weeks.
''I'm going to do my best to fall a certain way and fall the right way. But I can't help if a guy lands on top of me,'' Cobb said.
It might be the last thing that coach Mike McCarthy wants to see, especially with Jordy Nelson out for the year with a right knee injury suffered six days before Cobb went down.
That made Cobb the new No. 1 receiver for MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
''Everybody has great respect for Randall Cobb. He'll do whatever he needs to do to get on the field and be successful,'' McCarthy said before practice on Thursday.
His value to the high-scoring Packers offense has soared since Nelson went down.
Cobb recorded career-highs of 91 catches, 1,287 yards receiving and 12 touchdown catches last season. He parlayed his performance into a four-year, $40 million contract in the offseason that kept him off the open market.
While Nelson was more of a deep threat, the 5-foot-10 Cobb excelled at making tough catches over the middle. He's a go-to option in the clutch for Rodgers, having scored six touchdowns on third-down plays.
''The open guy gets the ball and he's open a lot,'' Rodgers said. ''He's hopefully going to be open even more now that Jordy's down.''
That may depend a lot on how promising Davante Adams progresses in his second year in the league, and how quickly veteran James Jones can assimilate back into offense after being re-signed earlier this week.
Regardless, Cobb plans to be on the field with them.
''Still play fearlessly, but be smart in trying to control what I can control,'' he said. ''Obviously it's going to be something I have to deal with, but I'll be fine.''
INJURY REPORT: The Packers had the same injury report as Wednesday. Besides Cobb, LB Sam Barrington (ankle) was limited and S Morgan Burnett (calf) was out.
SAFETY IN NUMBERS: Burnett's injury has apparently lingered from last Thursday's preseason finale against New Orleans, when he was a late scratch. But the position overall is deeper and much improved from this time a year ago. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is coming off a good rookie year; Sean Richardson has turned into a capable backup; and Micah Hyde has grown more comfortable in a hybrid cornerback-safety role.
Hyde would likely start if Burnett can't go. Hyde also said he that he felt fine after leaving the Eagles game with neck spasms. He sat out the preseason finale.
''When you guys heard - anybody heard - `neck,' the thought was a major (injury). But I think the trainers were trying to play it safe and I knew right away my neck was just tight,'' Hyde said.
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