Dec 9, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) signals for a first down after catching a pass during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The question:Who should be the Green Bay Packers return man?

There is a competition going on to see who will be the next Green Bay Packers return specialist. Coach Mike McCarthy told the media before the draft that he would prefer not to have Randall Cobb as a returner in 2013 to preserve him for other offensive duties. McCarthy gave one of those “time will tell” comments.

So, what has “time” been telling us?

Cobb opened each of his first two seasons in the league with returns for touchdowns.

– A 75-yard punt return for a touchdown against the 49ers in week one of 2012.
– A 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Saints in week one of 2011.

Why not let him attempt a three-peat?

He finished in the top 10 in the NFL in 2012 as a returner.

The Packers didn’t select any legitimate kick return threats in the April draft.

The Packers in mini-camp experimented with Johnathon Franklin at returning kicks. While he looked the part in practice without contact, he didn’t return a punt or a kick in college, and is a work in progress.

There are other long-shots who could emerge later in training camp. A free agent also could be picked up by the Packers. Devin Hester is said to be on the bubble in Chicago Bears camp.

If McCarthy is determined to replace Cobb as a returner, the top candidate from last season may be Jeremy Ross. While Ross had a better average per return than Cobb in 2012, he only had seven combined kick and punt returns in 2012 compared to Cobb’s 69. Ross also is remembered for his muffed punt against the 49ers that led to a San Francisco score in the Packers’ playoff loss in January.

We shouldn’t be too hard on Ross. Case in point: Jacoby Jones had a costly fumble for the Houston Texans in their playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens in 2011. Jones then was picked up by the Ravens on waivers for 2012, where he set the league on fire, culminated by his game-altering performance in the Super Bowl.

The other thing “time” tells us is there is no need to rush things when the season is still 75 days away.

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Tags: Devin Hester Jeremy Ross John Dewey Jonathon Franklin Mike McCarthy Randall Cobb

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