One of the leading storylines coming out of the Green Bay Packers’ 35-14 victory over the Chicago Bears on Thursday night (besides the injuries) was the apparent benching of cornerback Damarious Randall. The third-year corner was beaten badly on a late-second quarter touchdown pass, and did not see the field again in the game.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy refused to comment on the situation after the game, calling it an “internal matter.” However, we have a few more details about the situation on Friday and can begin to draw some conclusions.
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers gives great latitude to his position coaches to determine which players are worthy of playing time, something he has done consistently throughout his tenure in Green Bay. As a result, it appears that cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt, Jr. was the person making the call on Thursday to insert Josh Hawkins in at the left boundary corner spot in Randall’s place.
Randall, however, apparently did not take too kindly to being sat down. On Friday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network provided some more details about the situation that paint Randall in a very poor light. Rapoport relayed from a source that Randall got into an argument with a coach — presumably Whitt — and was sent to the locker room. But instead of remaining there until the game concluded, Randall apparently packed up his things and left Lambeau Field entirely.
At best, this is an immature display of emotion from a third-year pro who is struggling. At worst, it is a sign of disrespect towards the team and the coaching staff, and particularly towards the coach in question.
Rapoport does go on to say, however, that Randall returned to the team facilities on Friday to “clear the air” with McCarthy, though no mention was made of the assistant coach in question.
On another team or in a different situation, this type of outburst could end up driving a team to release the player in question. For the Packers, however, injury and depth concerns likely rule that out. The team is dealing with an injury to starter Davon House, who has missed the past two games, as well as ineffectiveness from Randall’s fellow 2015 draft pick, Quinten Rollins, who has only played a few defensive snaps in each of the past two games, including just one on Thursday. This has driven the Packers to utilize their safeties more as slot defenders, a strategy which seems likely to continue moving forward. Upon House’s return, the Packers would appear to have just three corners whom the coaching staff trust at the moment.
Indeed, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky reports that the the Packers “are not likely” to release Randall at present.
For now, Randall appears to have a long way to go to regain the trust of his coaching staff, both on and off the field.