Bring on the hits: Bigger, stronger Randall Cobb thinks he can take it

Randall Cobb used some of the weight he gained this offseason to power into the end zone against the 49ers last week. Rob Holt/Icon Sportswire

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Randall Cobb juked one defender and ran over another on the way to his 6-yard touchdown catch last Friday against the San Francisco 49ers.

On the sideline, fellow Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson couldn't wait to give Cobb a hard time.

"I told him the old 190-[pound Cobb] wouldn't have made it in," Nelson joked. "But whatever he is now got in."

It's not the only reason Cobb decided to put on some weight this offseason but if it means breaking a few more tackles, then that's fine with him. Cobb looked both quick (when he side-stepped cornerback Chris Davis) and strong (when he bulldozed cornerback Keith Reaser) on his catch-and-run score in the second quarter against the 49ers.

But Cobb had the bigger picture in mind, especially after what happened last season.

"Randall played the whole season last year injured," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "He was hurt, I think in the Philadelphia game in the third preseason game last year, and he fought that all year."

The shoulder injury Cobb sustained against the Eagles turned out to be a bigger burden than anyone knew at the time. Although he played in every game, by the end of the season he had lost so much strength because of his inability to do much -- if any -- weight lifting.

"I lost a lot of weight last year during the season," Cobb said. "It doesn't help when you can't do much upper-body [training] to hold your strength. Yeah, obviously, it weighed a lot on me but I feel great right now, and that's the plan -- to try to maintain my weight and try to stay as injury-free as I can."

After last season, which ended with a bruised lung that knocked him out of the playoff loss at Arizona, Cobb said he was down to 184 pounds. He plans to play this season at around 195 or 196.

Cobb said he doesn't know when the sprained AC joint in his right shoulder actually healed last season, but it was clear he was determined not to let it keep him out, especially considering the Packers had already lost Nelson to a season-ending knee injury in the preseason.

While he gutted it out, Cobb's production dropped from 91 catches in 2014 to 79 last season, his yards from 1,287 to 839 and his touchdowns from 12 to six. But it wasn't just the shoulder, apparently, although he declined to get into specifics.

"I dealt with a couple of things throughout the entire season," he said. "That's part of it. It's the NFL. Nobody cares about what you have going on. Everybody has something going on at this level. I didn't perform as well as I could with the situation that I had. So it's on me."

And it's why Cobb set out to get stronger this offseason so, as he put it, he could "absorb some of those hits a little bit better."

"He's bigger this year," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said after the 49ers game last week. "I was teasing him; you know, he wouldn't have scored that touchdown if he was 190, but at 196 he's going to get that ball in the end zone now."