INDIANAPOLIS -- Plans are underway in Green Bay for life beyond receiver Greg Jennings, who is expected to depart via free agency.
Already, receiver James Jones has declared he is ready to ascend to the team's No. 1 receiver role. Meanwhile, Packers coaches are hoping to focus Randall Cobb exclusively on offense in 2013 to maximize his output there and reduce the risk of injury on special teams.
Speaking here at the NFL scouting combine, coach Mike McCarthy said he wants another player to step up as the team's primary returner but didn't rule out the possibility of using Cobb there if no one does. My guess is the Packers will find someone to do it, whether it is Jeremy Ross -- who had a 58-yard punt return and a 44-yard kickoff return in brief action last season -- or someone they find in the draft or college free agency.
"Our special teams in a number of areas was about as good as we've played in our time there in Green Bay," McCarthy said, "and Randall is a big part of that. I hope he's not playing next year. That’s really the responsibility of the rest of the skill players in the locker room. He's someone who we spent a lot of time this time last year developing packages for him, as far as putting him in the backfield and so forth. I prefer not to play him on special teams. We'll let time answer that."
Cobb played 635 snaps last season on offense and another 138 on special teams for a total of 773 over 15 games. The game he missed, in the Week 17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, was a result of an ankle sprain he suffered on a kick return the previous week. Cobb has three touchdown returns in two seasons on special teams, but he will enter 2013 as arguably the Packers' top offensive playmaker. That status almost requires a transition on special teams. You can't be everywhere.