Early camp reports regarding the Green Bay Packers have everyone singing the praises of second-round draft picks Kevin King and Josh Jones, and Davon House has, as expected, been “running with the ones” as the training camp mavens say, but there is one player conspicuous by his absence: Damarious Randall.
In a sense this isn’t surprising as Randall struggled mightily last season when asked to step up and replace Sam Shields. Randall battled injuries and ineffectiveness during his 2016 campaign — a disappointing follow-up to his breakout rookie season — but he is also considered to have considerable upside. Randall’s issues involve technique and training camp still offers the ability for him to rectify those issues, but it would have been nice to hear some noise by now. It’s too early to be concerned, but it is also worth noting that the Packers have actively moved players around primary and secondary units. Ladarius Gunter started the first day of camp with the first unit, and was quickly and unsurprisingly moved down. It was King, not Randall, who replaced him, and Randall is just getting his first sniff with the starters today in the slot, with King held out for precautionary reasons.
Almost as surprising is the ascent of Quinten Rollins, who has been steady as the slot corner with the first unit over the last several days of practice (and who, tellingly, was moved outside for Tuesday’s practice with King on the shelf). Rollins struggled at least as much as Randall in 2016, and given that he entered as the less athletic prospect, he seemed less likely to make a big jump this season. Instead he’s held up well in the early going and seems to be taking to the inside well.
It’s good to see any member of the 2016 secondary showing any kind of improvement, but the glaring weakness at corner last season is now a competitive, highly skilled arena, and it’s worth monitoring Randall closely for progress, as well as for signs of a position change down the line.