Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Patrick Cobbs joins former special teams coach in Big Easy

A long-time favorite of head coach Tony Sparano and one of the leaders in the Miami Dolphins' locker room over the past few years, free agent running back Patrick Cobbs has reportedly agreed to a deal with the New Orleans Saints.

Originally signed by the New England Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of North Texas in 2006, Cobbs was dealt to the Pittsburgh Steelers prior to the season opener and was later waived and added to the Dolphins' practice squad.

Cobbs was promoted to the Dolphins' active roster and never looked back, spending the next four-plus years as a backup running back and key special teams player in Miami. He missed 11 games with a torn ACL in 2009, but returned to be voted a team captain in 2010 and appear in all 16 contests, tying a career high with two touchdown catches.

Despite being limited physically at 5-foot-8 and lacking much skill on the offensive side of the ball, Cobbs shined at times as a third-down back and was consistently on of the team's best special teams players. His work ethic was second to none and helped earn him the respect of his teammates and  coaching staff.

Now 28, Cobbs joined a fairly crowded backfield in New Orleans that includes first-round rookie Mark Ingram, incumbent starter Pierre Thomas, free agent pickup Darren Sproles, and Chris Ivory (currently on the PUP list with a Lisfranc injury). Coincidentally, the Saints dealt Reggie Bush to the Dolphins last month as Miami looked to fill out its depth chart in part due to the departure of Cobbs.

A key catalyst in the signing of Cobbs could have been the presence of Saints' assistant special teams coach John Bonamego, who worked with Cobbs in Miami from the beginning of 2008 to Bonamego's termination following Week 4 of the 2010 season. Cobbs is the second ex-Dolphins special-teamer to reunite with Bonamego in New Orleans, joining safety Jonathon Amaya from the Reggie Bush deal.

Cobbs' familiarity with Bonamego won't guarantee Cobbs a roster spot with the Saints, however, as he lacks any upside on offense and will be no higher than fourth on the depth chart. If the injuries to Ivory and Joique Bell extend into the regular season, Cobbs' chances will be greatly improved and he should have a chance to stick around in New Orleans in 2011.

As a Dolphins' fan, it's disappointing to see Cobbs go even if he was never really an impact player. He was one of the few bright spots on special teams in recent years and was always a pleasure to watch because of his high energy and top-notch effort.

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