By Mark Eckel, Player Engagement Insider
As several rookie wide receivers before and after him, the Green Bay Packers Randall Cobb ran the wrong route during a play in his first NFL game.
Unlike most other receivers, Cobb caught an Aaron Rodgers’ touchdown pass on the play that helped the Packers to a wild 42-34 opening-night win over the New Orleans Saints.
It was September 8, 2011, when Cobb, a second-round draft pick out of the University of Kentucky where he also played some quarterback, made his NFL debut for the defending Super Bowl champion Packers.
“I didn’t know what to expect being a rookie and coming into the league,’’ Cobb said. “I didn’t even know how much I would get to play to be honest. I knew I was returning, both kickoffs and punts, but as a receiver I didn’t know how much time I would get. I think I ended up with 10 snaps that night, caught two passes and one went for a touchdown on a play that Aaron checked to and I ran the wrong route.’’
The Packers led 14-7 late in the first quarter and drove to the Saints’ 32-yard-line. Rodgers saw something in the Saints defense and called an audible at the line.
“Aaron checked to a play and I ran the wrong route,’’ Cobb said. “I happened to be open and he threw me the ball and I was able to make something happen with it.’’
Cobb’s touchdown gave the Packers a 21-7 lead and saved him from hearing about his miscue from the coaching staff.
“Since I scored,’’ he said, “I kind of got away with it.’’
Cobb got away from the Saints kickoff coverage team in the second half for a 108-yard touchdown return that upped the Packers lead to 35-20.
“You can’t expect to score two touchdowns in your first (NFL) game,’’ Cobb said. “That was a very exciting time. We were coming out of the lockout. So, I really didn’t have a chance to go through the offseason program and pick up the offense. We started training camp and it was kind of a whirlwind getting ready for that first week.
“And that first week was tough, kind of nerve-wracking. But to walk away from that first game with two touchdowns, that was certainly starting off with a bang for a rookie.’’
Cobb finished his rookie season with 25 catches for 375 yards, an average of 15 yards per catch, and also averaged 27.7 yards on 34 kickoff returns and 11.3 yards on 26 punt returns.
Through his six-year career, all with the Packers, Cobb has become one of Rodgers’ favorite targets, and one of the game’s best slot receivers. He goes into his seventh season with 366 receptions for 4,488 yards and 35 touchdowns. He also has three return touchdowns.
Of all those numbers, the one that makes Cobb think back is the seven. That this will be his seventh NFL season.
“They really have (flown by),’’ Cobb said of his years in the league. “To think that this is going on year seven for me, it seems like it was just a couple of years ago.’’
Those first-game memories remain special, and the veteran still gets excited for opening day and will again this year when the Packers host the Seahawks on September 10th.
“Every game is so special,’’ Cobb said. “I don’t think a lot of people realize, we’re always just one play away from a serious injury and not being able to play again. So, just running out of that tunnel every week it definitely is a great feeling and it brings a certain sense of excitement for you. And especially opening day.’’