The Green Bay Packers will have to find ways of replacing the contributions of veteran slot receiver Randall Cobb, who is dealing with a significant core injury and will be out indefinitely.
Coach Matt LaFleur mentioned Allen Lazard, Equanimeous St. Brown, Davante Adams and Amari Rodgers as potential options to replace Cobb in the slot.
According to Pro Football Focus, Cobb caught 21 passes and averaged 1.58 yards per route run when lined up in the slot this season. He also led the Packers with four receiving touchdowns from the slot. While the numbers don’t pop off the page, Cobb came up big in several big spots over the first 12 games of the season, and losing a veteran target does nothing to help take away all the help usually thrown at Adams each week.
Others will have to make the most of the opportunity.
Lazard is a big, physical target who has 12 catches and two touchdowns when lined up in the slot this season. He has struggled catching the ball in traffic as of late, but more opportunities to play inside could help unlock the type of efficiency as a receiver he produced during the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
St. Brown has been used in a limited fashion this season, especially in the slot, but his role is expanding. He’s looking more and more comfortable and confident in his fourth season, and his size and athleticism could be assets from the slot. Don’t be surprised if he suddenly becomes a more valuable player in the passing game.
Adams is always the key player in the slot. He leads the team with 51 targets, 37 catches and 414 receiving yards from the slot this season. The Packers do a terrific job of lining him up all over the field to keep coverage schemes guessing and produce the best matchups in the passing game. Expect more of No. 17 playing inside as the Packers find ways of creating more easy catches for the All-Pro.
Rodgers, the rookie, has only played a handful of snaps from the slot this season despite being advertised as something of a Cobb clone. He needs to take a big step forward coming out of the bye, both in the slot and as a returner. He’ll get chances, potentially even as a gadget player with Cobb out.
The one forgotten-about receiver in this equation is Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who has the elite speed needed to threaten as a perimeter target or in the slot. In fact, he’s produced 11 catches for 218 yards and two scores when lined up in the slot this season. His 79-yard touchdown against the Vikings last month came when he was lined up as the No. 3 receiver in the slot. Vertical speed from the inside can be a tough thing to cover as a defense.
Running back Aaron Jones and tight end Josiah Deguara are other options. They’ve both caught touchdown passes while lining up in the slot this season.
Losing Cobb is a blow to the Packers offense, especially considering this connection and level of trust with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but LaFleur’s team has several quality options to help fill in the gaps.