GREEN BAY – Over the past two seasons the Packers have bid goodbye to the likes of Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, and James Jones. Their exits of helped elevate Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb into a leadership role within the wide receiver room, one that extends well beyond the playing field.
“It’s been kind of crazy how fast it happened losing those three guys in two years. You go from the 4th oldest to the oldest pretty quick,” Jordy Nelson quipped.
At 29 years old, Nelson is the elder statesman at the position, with that seniority comes added responsibility although Nelson doesn’t see it as undue burden.
“I don’t think it’s pressure at all, Nelson said. ”I think it’s expectations but I don’t think anyone in this locker room has lower expectations than anyone outside. That’s all I expect from myself is to do my job the way I’m supposed to do it, o the best of my ability.”
Randall Cobb, the other established receiver, missed ten games last season due to injury. He’s back. He’s healthy. And as he showed in Chicago last December he can be a difference maker on offense.
“I do look at myself as a playmaker and explosive guy and just being able to get the ball in my hands quick and make something happen,” Cobb said. “I think definitely my skill set provides another explosive guy in the room.”
That room is full of potential but with much to prove. The young receivers have to earn the trust of Aaron Rodgers before they see the ball in something more meaningful than a training camp practice. Rodgers said he understands physical mistakes but to play for the Packers the mental mistakes must be eliminated.
“If you cannot line up right, if you can’t do the checks, if you can’t do what you’re supposed to do every single time you’re on the field than there’s no possible way you can be on the field when I’m out there. The guys understand that,” Rodgers explained.
Packers’ wide receivers coach, Edgar Bennett echoed Rodgers sentiments on accountability. He gave credit to Cobb and Nelson for leading the group but he said the younger players are thirsty for knowledge as well. “We have some great role models in that room some leaders but certainly the young guys, they take the initiative that, I’m here for a reason and I’ve got to make the most of each and every opportunity,” Bennett said.
Cobb and Nelson didn’t come to Green Bay polished products either. Both credited former teammates for helping them develop and they’ve now trying to take on the role of mentor for the next group of Packers pass catchers.
“I’ve always felt that I had the capability of being a leader and being a guy who my teammates look up to and helping my teammates on and off the field and just be somebody they can talk to,” Cobb said. He takes the idea of leadership seriously even reading up on different leadership styles and ways to effectively lead.
Nelson explained how game he uses his game experience as a teaching tool in the film room. “You try to bring experiences from the game into the film room so maybe they can learn from my mistakes or my experiences of this works better. It’s just a little bit on releases and routes and it’s nothing huge but it’s the little things that will help them speed up the development in the league and we expect them to come in and make plays for us and we need to help them get to that point,” Nelson said. He went on to say, “We expect them to come in and make plays for us. There’s routes on paper and then there’s routes we run in the game so we try to get them up to speed as soon as possible.”
Randall Cobb summed up the Packers wide receiver group by saying, “I think one thing that’s special about our room that not everyone knows yet but they will know is they have a bunch of guys in the room, a bunch of athletic guys who bring different things to us as a team.”