GREEN BAY, Wis. — Sometimes you need to see a player in person to truly appreciate his abilities. Packers second-year WR Randall Cobb has received hype and praise this offseason, and everyone saw his potential from the 2011 regular-season opener, when he returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
In Monday night’s practice at Packers training camp, Cobb’s speed and smooth route running were hard to ignore. Watching a simple wide receiver screen pass during 11-on-11s helped illustrate why Cobb can be a playmaker for Green Bay going forward.
Cobb’s background as a quarterback resembles that of one of his teammates, WR Diondre Borel, another player who has turned some heads in Green Bay this summer, and Borel made a few nice plays on Monday night. A first-year player out of Utah State, Borel spent last season on the practice squad and was a quarterback in college for the Aggies. Borel is two inches taller than Cobb, and his quickness and fluidity should help make his case for a role on the active roster in 2012.
“Borel is stronger. He did a good job in the weight room,” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said after practice. “You can see his athletic ability and instincts, which I think is a big strength of his. Diondre is a very instinctive player, a smart player.”
Having the background of a quarterback, like Cobb, has assisted Borel in picking up the pro game at wideout.
“His time playing quarterback has definitely helped him transition,” said McCarthy. “He sees the big picture and is doing a really good job working on fundamentals and techniques of the position.”
WR Tori Gurley has been out with a hamstring injury, giving Borel more opportunities to make an impression.
Other observations from Monday night’s padded practice:
• McCarthy said afterward that he cut practice short because of injuries. CB Sam Shields (elbow) and RB Brandon Saine (hamstring) left Monday’s practice.
• LB Desmond Bishop made a very nice read and picked off a pass over the middle intended for TE Tom Crabtree. Monday was only Bishop’s second padded practice this summer.
• WR Donald Driver had a bad drop on a crossing pattern in red-zone drills, but on the next play he ran a crisp route to the pylon and made a solid touchdown catch. McCarthy on Driver after practice: “I think Donald is having a very consistent camp. He has had some big nights for us. The way he goes about his business is the way he has gone about his whole career. He’s the same guy every day, practices the same way every day. … He looks good, looks real good.”
• Often in practices and preseason games, the second-team offensive line has its struggles, but it was noticeable on Monday night. That group did not make things easy for QB Graham Harrell.
• It’s fun to watch Charles Woodson work, whether he is directing traffic and ball hawking from his new safety position, or getting physical with receivers when he mans up in the slot.
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