By Jim Owczarski Sports Editor Published Jul 04, 2013 at 1:01 PM

GREEN BAY – At this point in his career, Aaron Rodgers seems beyond flippancy. Oh, the now nine-year NFL veteran can dole out a cliché as easily as the next player, but the 29-year-old Most Valuable Player and Super Bowl MVP quarterback often avoids such crutches.

Usually, especially when speaking about teammates, Rodgers just doesn’t toss out sunny platitudes if he doesn’t feel they’re necessary, or called for.

So when Rodgers said third-year wide receiver Randall Cobb "is a guy who could be a 100-plus catch guy every year" it raised eyebrows for a few reasons.

One, no receiver has come anywhere close to that plateau since Rodgers took over as the Green Bay Packers starting quarterback in 2008. Two, no Packers receiver has come close since Donald Driver caught 92 passes in 2006. Three, no receiver has actually done it since Robert Brook caught 102 passes nearly two decades ago.

Despite the changes to the game that allow for greater production out of quarterbacks and pass catchers, the Packers offense – and Rodgers’ ability to dissect the field – trend away from such individual milestones.

For his part, Cobb won’t publicly state any personal, statistical goals. But, he does have them – which is fine by head coach Mike McCarthy.

"I don’t do projections," McCarthy said in response to whether he thought Cobb could reach the century mark. "I hope so. I’d be all for it. I hope they all catch 100 balls. But we’ve got to run the ball, of course."

He paused for effect, with a smile.

"Those things are great," McCarthy continued. "It’s important for players to approach the game, statistical goals; Randall is a professional, team player, and he’ll be given opportunities there’s no question about that. Yes, I think he definitely has a lot more growth in front of him and it’s exciting for how productive he’s been as a young player."

Cobb made a name for himself as a rookie in 2011 on special teams, returning two kicks for touchdowns. He caught 25 passes, a number that was good for seventh on the team.

Perhaps Cobb was ready for an increased role in the offense in 2012, or perhaps he was the beneficiary of circumstance as Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson battled injury and Driver succumbed to age, but whatever the case Cobb exploded onto the national scene by leading the team with 80 catches for 954 yards and eight touchdowns. He carried the ball 10 times, too, and continued to return kicks to lead the NFL in all-purpose yards with 2,342.

So, Rodgers wasn’t necessarily paying lip service. After all – going from 25 catches to 80 from one year to the next seems far more improbable than jumping from 80 to 100.

But maybe not.

"You can always improve," Cobb said. "I’ve always said you can never really reach your full potential so I always try to continue to climb that mountain."

For Cobb, climbing the mountain hast meant running against air.

His entire football life has been spent shuffling between spots on the field, whether it was under center, behind the quarterback, split wide or returning kicks. When you’re a jack of all trades, indeed you are master of none.

So, Cobb has gone about mastering the one element to his game that is now most important to the Packers.

"We look for him to be part of our primary focus as far as our approach to game planning, particularly in the passing game," McCarthy said.

This offseason Cobb has spent time at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and high school and college fields working on route running. It’s the aspect of the game he realized was most important after lockering next to Driver and Jennings for two seasons.

"Being able to watch those two guys in practice over the last couple years and really learn about route running principles, about leverage, about getting off the line of scrimmage, about coming in and out of your cuts," he said. "Being able to watch them in practice and learn from the daily has been a big help to me."

A receiver practicing his route running is like a basketball practicing his dribbling – LeBron James doesn’t need a basket to improve his handle and Cobb didn’t need a quarterback throwing him balls.

"You can feel it," Cobb said. "You can feel it whenever you’re coming out of your cuts if you’re slipping or you feel like you shortened your step a little bit. You can feel the different things. I can tell you what did wrong before I even watch it on film because I already know in my head what I did."

Before reporting to training camp in three weeks, Cobb is continuing the work he started this offseason. The one-on-one battles with teammates in the offseason training activities only reinforced that it’s been the right thing to do.

"I think, definitely, it has," he said. "Most of the stuff I’ve been doing this offseason has been on air. I haven’t had anybody to guard me so getting back and having another one of my teammates, Casey Hayward, Jarrett Bush, Tramon Williams, having a guy, a Pro Bowl player, an all-defensive rookie, in front of you and being able to work on those different techniques and having success you know that your hard work has paid off."

Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.

A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.

To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.

Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining

In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.

Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.