FRISCO, Texas — Randall Cobb swears this is just another week.
Yes, when the NFL schedule came out in the spring, the veteran wide receiver checked to see when the Green Bay Packers were coming to AT&T Stadium, but he did not ruefully smile and think bad thoughts about the only organization he ever knew before signing with the Dallas Cowboys in March. The teams, both 3-1 overall, play at 4:25 p.m. ET (Fox) on Sunday.
“It’s football, you know? It’s part of the business,” Cobb said. “Guys change teams all the time. It’s just how it goes. It’s part of the league, part of the business.”
In eight seasons, Cobb caught 470 passes for 5,524 yards and 41 touchdowns after being drafted by the Packers in 2011 with the No. 64 overall pick. After putting up 91 catches for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2014, Cobb was unable to match those numbers in his final four seasons in part because of injuries.
In 2018, he caught 38 passes for 383 yards and two touchdowns in just seven games because of hamstring injuries.
Once the Cowboys saw Cole Beasley leave via free agency for the Buffalo Bills, they set their sights on Cobb, signing him to a one-year deal worth a max of $5.5 million. In four games, Cobb has 14 receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown. He has played from the slot and outside. He has been used as a runner. He has been used as a punt returner.
“He’s all over the place making plays,” Packers receiver Geronimo Allison said. “Same old Randall.”
Cobb is still wearing No. 18. Just no longer in green and gold.
“It does look weird, but it’s Cobbie,” Allison said. “It’s fun to see him doing his thing, but it’ll be weird to see him doing it on the opposite side.”
Cobb’s most impressive play so far, at least to coach Jason Garrett, was not one of those catches.
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It is what happened after quarterback Dak Prescott was intercepted against the Miami Dolphins in Week 3. With Dolphins defensive back Bobby McCain returning the pick, Cobb tracked him down and punched the ball loose, although it ended up out of bounds.
“That was one of the featured plays in the [team] meeting and obviously there’s a lot to learn on that play, but what a great example to your teammates about how to play football at a high level,” Garrett said. “What a great example about team and physical toughness and determination and all of that. It was a bad play for us. We threw an interception but he stayed in the play, ultimately knocking the ball out. His technique in knocking it out was outstanding. That’s something we can all learn and grow from.”
To Cobb, it was just doing his job.
“I know DBs, whenever they get the ball, they like to keep it loose, so I was trying to go make a play on the ball,” Cobb said. “Almost had it.”
Packers fans won’t be surprised by that sort of play by Cobb. In 2012, he took advantage of a little-known rule on a kickoff, fielding the ball in play at the Green Bay 5 while standing out of bounds, which allowed the Packers to take over at their 40. In 2014, he clinched the Packers’ win against the Cowboys in the divisional round of the playoffs with a third-down catch off a deflected pass.
“I was in Detroit for a few years, seemed like Randall made so many big plays in Green Bay over the years,” Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore said. “People in Dallas obviously felt that as well, even before I got here. He’s just a really smart player. You always sensed that watching from afar, but as soon as you get him in here, all the things he can do. He’s such a quick learner that sometimes you put him in a situation he hasn’t been in before and it just kind of seems natural to him and he rolls with it.”
Cobb, 29, says his ability to adapt stems from his time playing quarterback in his youth, and he has continued to see the game from the quarterback’s perspective. In the spring, he asked Prescott about route depths at times of the quarterback’s reads to find holes in defenses.
“You take something, approach something, go out there and he does it right the first time,” Prescott said. “When you have a guy like that, it allows you to cut the ball loose. It allows you to anticipate. It allows you to trust he’s going to be in the right spot.”
It has not always been perfect.
Prescott’s first interception of the season came on a deflection off Cobb’s hands in Week 2 against the Washington Redskins. Prescott missed Cobb on a key third-down play in the fourth quarter of last week’s 12-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints, but it was a catch Cobb should have made. On the Cowboys’ final drive, Cobb and Prescott connected on a 32-yard play on fourth down to set up at least a Hail Mary opportunity.
If Cobb wants things to go perfectly this week against Green Bay, he won’t really say. He still watches Packers games on television when possible and said he will be glad to see his teammates before the game. But when the game starts, the Packers will be just another team.
“It won’t be any different for me,” Cobb said. “My process will be the same. I’ll go about it the same way and go play ball like I always do.”
NFL Nation Packers reporter Rob Demovsky contributed to this report.