PFW executive editor and resident Packers expert Dan Arkush presents the second of five key in the Packers' Week Eight game this Sunday against the Chargers in San Diego.
Packers kick returner Randall Cobb vs. Chargers special teams
Since his spectacular prime-time debut in Green Bay's season-opening victory over the Saints, which was highlighted by a 108-yard kickoff return for a TD, Cobb has come down to earth. But you still get the feeling that he can go the distance at any time, although the likelihood is much greater on kickoffs than punts. Cobb leads the NFC with a 30.5-yard kickoff-return average. As a punt returner, though, he has been below average (8.1 yards per return; 12 returns and 11 fair catches).
Cobb is coming off an uneven performance in the Packers' last game against Minnesota. The bad news was that he fumbled a fair-catch attempt and dropped a wide-open pass at the Minnesota 21-yard line in a key 3rd-and-long situation. The good news is that Cobb got his act back together with a 42-yard punt return that helped set up the Packers' second touchdown of the game, and he also added a 31-yard kickoff return.
San Diego brought in a new special-teams coach (Rich Bisaccia from Tampa Bay) after having major problems with its kickoff coverage last season, allowing three kickoffs and one punt to be returned for scores. Journeyman PK Nick Novak has done an excellent job replacing the injured Nate Kaeding, who blew out his knee in Week One, in all phases, including kickoffs. P Mike Scifres is widely considered one of the league's better punters with excellent hang time. Last Monday night he limited Kansas City's Javier Arenas, who entered the Chiefs-Chargers game with an AFC-leading 15.5 punt-return average, to one punt return for only 10 yards.
One Chargers special-teamer Cobb is likely to run into is LB Andrew Gachkar, the coverage unit's top performer.