Randall Cobb with Houston Texans, AP photo

Randall Cobb scores a touchdown with the Houston Texans earlier this season.

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GREEN BAY — With every name Aaron Rodgers ticked off, it became more and more obvious that the Green Bay Packers quarterback won’t be getting his hopes up.

With the Houston Texans sitting at 1-5 entering Sunday’s game against Rodgers and the Packers at NRG Stadium in Houston — after an 0-4 start that got Texans coach/general manager Bill O’Brien fired — there’s been some speculation the Texans might move several veteran players before the Nov. 3 trade deadline.

Among them? Ex-Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb, who signed a three-year, $27 million free-agent deal with the Texans in March after spending one year with the Dallas Cowboys when the Packers opted not to re-sign him following the 2018 season. Even Cobb himself has heard the rumors and wondered about his future.

“I’ve seen crazier things happen in this business since I’ve been in it,” Cobb said earlier this week. “You really just got to brace yourself and wait and see what happens. I bought a house here, so I planned on being here for the long haul. We’ll see how it all plays out. You take it day by day.

“We’ll see. I don’t know what to think or what to believe. You just sit back and take it day by day and come to work and try to do your job every day.”

Given the Packers limited quality wide receiver depth — even with No. 1 receiver Davante Adams back after missing two games with a hamstring injury — it’s not unreasonable to wonder whether the Packers might be interested in reuniting Cobb with Rodgers. Especially with No. 2 wide receiver Allen Lazard on injured reserve and sidelined indefinitely following core muscle surgery.

But as much as Rodgers loves Cobb, having been a groomsman in his wedding and remaining close friends, even the quarterback seems resigned to the idea that Cobb — like many other key players over the past several years — has played his last down in green and gold.

“There's been a few guys through the years who I felt really typified what it means to be a Green Bay Packer. Unfortunately, the majority of those guys haven't been able to finish their career in Green Bay,” said Rodgers, who is likely to join that group with the team having drafted his heir apparent, Jordan Love, in the first round of the NFL Draft in April.

“Guys like John Kuhn, Jordy Nelson, Charles Woodson, Randall Cobb, A.J. Hawk, Clay Matthews ... Just staples in the community, longtime Packers, great teammates, great locker-room guys, leaders. There's no replacing the character of those guys that I mentioned. All very high-character guys. And you miss those types of presences in the locker room."

During the first four games of the season, any shortcomings at receiver were non-existent — or masked, at least. Even with Adams sidelined, the Packers were ranked second in the NFL in total offense (445.5 yards per game), first in by-play production (6.8 yards per play), first in scoring (38 points per game) and first in average time of possession (34 minutes, 20 seconds per game) until last Sunday’s 38-10 loss at Tampa Bay.

Even after that abysmal offensive performance, the Packers still enter Sunday’s game against the Texans seventh in yards, tied for fourth in yards per play, third in scoring and first in time of possession. So perhaps the Packers don’t think they need receiver help anyway, even with Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s inconsistency, Equanimeous St. Brown’s unimpressive season debut last week and Darrius Shepherd and Malik Taylor’s inexperience.

“You’re always looking to upgrade if you can. But I think we’ve had a lot of confidence in our guys,” LaFleur said at midweek. “They’ve shown to be able to wear multiple hats and we can move them around. I think there’s still, outside of Davante, there’s still a lot of young players there that are progressing, and we need to continue to get better each and every day. Missing Allen has been tough on us, just because he is a steady presence there that can do a lot of things, not only in the passing game but in the run game.”

Asked what he’s seen from Cobb on film from this season, LaFleur replied, “Randall Cobb looks great. Obviously, I've seen a lot of tape of him — not only over the years, but certainly in my time here of just old cut-ups. And I've got a lot of respect for him. I know just the way he's revered around here just amongst the other players, amongst other people within this organization. I've got a lot of respect for him. Although I don't know him personally, just everything I've been ever told about him, is he is first class, he's about the team, and he's a great teammate.”

Regardless, Rodgers and Adams were looking forward to seeing their old friend on Sunday, just as they enjoyed catching up with him last year when the Packers played Cobb and the Cowboys. Cobb finished with three receptions for 53 yards in the Packers’ 34-24 win.

Asked about Cobb, Rodgers recalled his debut in 2011, in the NFL season kickoff game after the Packers had won Super Bowl XLV the previous season. In prime time against the New Orleans Saints, the then-rookie caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers and returned a kickoff 108 yards for another touchdown in the Packers’ 42-34 victory.

“You knew he was going to be special from that point forward,” Rodgers remembered. “One of the toughest guys I've ever played with, a great sense for the game, a fantastic athlete, can do so many things on the field, just an incredible understanding of route running — the kind of player you love because if he made a mistake, he never made it twice.

“When he learned something about a route, he'd lock it away in his brain and could remember things from years prior, games prior, release patterns, certain guys he was going against, uncanny ability to set up routes. And he's a security blanket-type receiver. When you have a slot guy like that who can get open, that's always a good matchup for you.

“He did so many things for us. When he was healthy for us, he was a dynamic player and obviously a really close friend. I was in his wedding a few years ago. I love his wife. Now they've got two kids. It's incredible. (I) definitely miss him a lot. I always wish he was here."

Asked what he learned from being mentored by Cobb, Adams replied, “Just really everything that comes with being a pro. Randall and Jordy were the poster children for just doing it the right way, playing ball, not being a diva, nothing extra outside of playing ball and being there for your teammates.”

For his part, Cobb wants to take the same approach to facing his old team as he is taking with the trade talks: Not make it bigger than it is, and just take it as it comes.

“(When) I was in Dallas last year and we played the Packers, it was a very weird feeling after being in Green Bay for eight years, giving everything to that organization. It was weird being on the other sidelines,” Cobb said. “Now, it’s a new year, a different situation.

“Putting on the green and gold and running through the tunnel (at Lambeau Field) and knowing the players that’d come through that tunnel and the people that’d played on that field, it really is hallowed ground. It’s really a special place. I have some very fond memories. A lot of interaction with the fans during the game and off the field and at the grocery store. It’ll always be a special place to me.”

Photos: Packers' 2020 season so far in pictures

Photos: Packers' 2020 season so far in pictures

Check out photo galleries from every game of 2020 through the end of the regular season and the playoffs — if the Packers make it.

This article originally ran on madison.com.


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