GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) - Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy says leading receiver Randall Cobb is too valuable to take off of kick returns for safety reasons.
McCarthy says Monday that if Cobb is healthy, he will be the Packers' full-time punt and kick returner, even in the wake of the ankle injury he suffered in Sunday's 55-7 rout of the Tennessee Titans.
Cobb was injured when tackled by Tennessee's Tracy Wilson while returning a punt with 8:38 left in the third quarter - a game in which Cobb set the franchise single-season record for all-purpose yardage. On his previous two punt returns, Cobb had gained 14 and 17 yards.
Green Bay’s Randall Cobb (18) celebrates with Greg Jennings and D.J. Williams after a touchdown Sunday against Tennessee.
"I'll be honest with you: I don't have a really high tolerance for this (line of questioning) because I don't understand how you play scared in the game of football. I don't get that," McCarthy said sternly. "I think it's convenient questioning. I understand the risk involved in every single play. Some plays are higher risk than others, and I'm fully aware of that.
"But you can't sit here and say special teams is important if you don't put a guy like Randall Cobb out there as a returner. Now, if we're sitting here next year, we might be having a different conversation. But the way our team is built for 2012, Randall Cobb is a huge part of our success on special teams."
McCarthy didn't have any update on Cobb's health, although he said Cobb seemed optimistic and the team's medical staff wasn't overly concerned, either. Cobb was scheduled to undergo further testing Monday.
"He may be in there as we speak. Then the doctors will determine what scans (are) needed, and we'll get that information sometime today," said McCarthy, who held his day-after-the-game news conference at 8 a.m. CST because of Christmas Eve. "The medical staff does not have high concern. Randall's so positive, so he doesn't seem very concerned. But you go through the process and scans and so forth and make sure we get all the information."
Even with quarterback Aaron Rodgers' not-so-subtle post-game suggestion that Cobb is too valuable to risk on returns, McCarthy said Cobb remains the returner, including in next Sunday's regular-season finale at Minnesota if he's available. After Cobb went down, first-year wide receiver Jeremy Ross had a 58-yard punt return that set up Ryan Grant's 7-yard touchdown run on the next play.
After the game, Rodgers was asked about Cobb's overall performance, and spoke of Cobb's role on returns.
"He's a big time player," Rodgers said. "He's fun to watch. Just trying to get him the ball in space. He makes some big plays. He's got incredible preparation habits. He's always ready to play, knows where he's supposed to be. He's like a seven or eight-year veteran out there, it feels like at times. I feel like we've played together for a while."
Then, after a brief pause and with a slight grin, Rodgers added, "(I) hope we can get him off special teams soon."
Although McCarthy responded in his post-game press conference with "We'll see" when first asked about Cobb staying on returns, the coach wasn't coy a day later.
"Randall Cobb is a big part of our success on special teams. Our special teams has been our most consistent unit of our football team from Week 1 to Week 15. You don't establish the way you play, the vision of the way you play, and then all of a sudden change going into the last week of the season," McCarthy said.