Green Bay Packers cornerback Damarious Randall is experiencing a resurgence this year as the team’s defensive secondary deals with injuries. Again. The loss of Kevin King last week to IR and Davon House during Sunday’s win to a back injury has left an already short-handed secondary paper thin, but as always, pressure creates diamonds. For the Packers, that diamond is Randall.
After being benched in week four against the Bears, Randall has been the most consistent playmaker on defense since returning. Recording an interception in three straight games in October and adding a fourth against the Pittsburgh Steelers week 12, defensive coordinator Dom Capers has relied on him to make plays all over the field. Randall normally played as a slot corner that likes to play close to the ball but injuries have forced him to line up outside and go up against the opponent’s best receiver as was the case this past Sunday. Browns receiver Josh Gordon caught two passes against a Packers zone defense during their opening drive including his first touchdown since 2013. Randall shadowed and pressed him for the rest of the day only allowing one more catch for 13 yards. Safe to say his confidence is growing.
“Wherever the team needs me, to be honest with you, I feel like I can make plays. I have made plays both inside and outside,” Randall said when asked about his increasingly significant role.
Aside from his playmaking ability, perhaps Randall’s best ability this year has been his availability. A stark contrast from last year where he missed several games with a groin injury and was severely hampered during the playoffs. Heading into last years postseason, LaDarius Gunter (released after week one this year) was playing the number one corner position and the fact that the Packers were able to make it to the NFC championship as hampered as they were speaks volumes, not only of Aaron Rodgers, but to how close they actually are to making and winning the Super Bowl. So there’s reason to believe Randall is a good enough corner to carry the defense through the postseason.
The Packers defense does not need to be the 2000 Ravens with Rodgers under center to push this team over the top. They are of the “bend, don’t break” variety in which key stops and turnovers rule and yardage be damned. This is perfect for a playmaker like Randall, who will be key should Green Bay make the postseason. His ability to press and jam receivers outside, play the slot, blitz and defend the run will be invaluable to the Packers playoff hopes
Green Bay faces Carolina this weekend in Aaron Rodgers’ first game back since breaking his collarbone in week six. Nothing is guaranteed as they will still need to win out and get some help to make the postseason but should they make it, the Packers will have as good a chance as any to make it all the way to the final game in Minnesota. Aaron Rodgers is the catalyst of the Packers but the difference this year will be Damarious Randall.