Jared Cook's return from ankle injury gives Packers' offense some hope

Green Bay TE Jared Cook had six catches for 105 yards and a touchdown against the Redskins on Sunday night. Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In one game, Jared Cook caught the two longest passes by a Green Bay Packers tight end this season. He also dropped on gimme touchdown and lost a fumble that just about prevented any chance for a comeback in last Sunday's loss at Washington.

Just like everything else associated with the Packers this season, even something positive comes with a negative or two.

Still, Cook's return from his the right ankle sprain he sustained in Week 3 is about the closest thing the Packers have to something they can pin their hopes on to turn things around after a four-game losing streak has dropped them to 4-6.

"He made some plays for us," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said after the game. "He's a tough matchup. We put him in good spots to be successful. Split him out on his own side and made some plays. Did a good job on the over-the-shoulder catch there on the corner route on third down. He's just getting going. It's good to see him healthy and he was a big contributor for us."

Cook caught six passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. It was the kind of performance coach Mike McCarthy envisioned when he pined for general manager Ted Thompson to sign the veteran free agent. Cook's 47-yard catch down the right sideline in the third quarter more than doubled the previous long reception by a Packers' tight end (Richard Rodgers had the previous long of 22 yards). Cook's best play might have been the over-the-shoulder grab for 29 yards later in the second half.

"I feel like I can help," Cook said. "I feel like we have a good offense in hand right now. I feel like nobody can stop us if we come together and put our mind to it, but we have to be able to show that on the field and do it."

Absent a consistent running game, perhaps a down-the-field threat at tight end can help the Packers offense, which has relied more on Rodgers than ever before. He's on pace to throw 656 passes this season, which would shatter the single-season franchise record.

Rodgers threw Cook's way 11 times against the Redskins, and Cook could have made an even greater impact had he not botched what would have been a first-quarter touchdown catch. He was wide open in the left flat but failed to turn around in time to see the pass. His fourth-quarter fumble came with the Packers into Redskins' territory with 3:05 to play and down by 11.

"Obviously there was some really good high notes as well as the ball security, we've got to clean that up and we've got to be fundamentally sound in how we're carrying the football," Packers offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said. "I think we all understand the importance of ball security and how it equates to winning and losing in the National Football League. So that's not just with Jared but that's with our entire unit. We certainly have to continue to emphasize it and clean that area up."