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CB Damarious Randall's Play Running on Instinct

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CB Damarious Randall's Play Running on Instinct

Damarious Randall may not have become the "star" he was envisioned to be this past off-season, but the Green Bay Packers cornerback certainly hasn't been a disappointment.

In fact, by definition of "star" in the context that the Packers' coaches use, Randall has been the embodiment of the word.

The "star" in defensive coordinator Dom Capers' nickel package is just another term to coin the slot cornerback, a position that Randall has been utilized in all season. It isn't because Randall -- 5-foot-11, 196 pounds -- is too small to play the outside, albeit he's had his fair share of struggles there, but his versatility is best used as a utility asset in the slot.

It'is where Randall can blitz freely and, when he isn't blitzing or playing close to the ball and squaring up to make a tackle, he can drop into coverage and roam like his natural ex-safety instincts tell him to.

"I think he's going to be not only a player that can cover in the slot but also add to the blitz game," said cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. in June during minicamp, the early beginnings of Randall's rejuvenation. "He's comfortable being inside, he has good quickness, he has good instincts, he has the ability to see and catch the flash of the football; he's a smart player. I think he's becoming a better communicator on the field and so he has the ability to be successful inside there."

Often when speaking of Randall, the theme that consistently gets spoken of is his instinct. He seems to have a natural sense of where the ball is going to be, evidenced by his three interceptions this season -- two of which were deflections that Randall just so happened to be in the right place at the right time to corral.

His three interceptions this season all came in three consecutive weeks, giving him the team-lead in that category. It also positions him comfortably in a tie for the fourth-highest interception total in the NFL.

Damarious Randall suffered a head injury on the contested touchdown pass to Mike Wallace in the third quarter of the Packers' loss to the Ravens, but later returned to the game. (Appleton Post-Crescent/USA TODAY Sports)

"The closer he plays to the football, the more opportunities he gets; he has that skill set," said coach Mike McCarthy before the Packers' Thanksgiving morning practice.

"Very instinctive, very intelligent, very aware. Him being at the 'star' gives us some continuity. To have the continuity of guys playing the same spots each and every week has made us better in the secondary. It's given him more opportunities to make plays on the ball."

Randall has shown significant strides in the avenue of improvement as a tackler, recording eight in his last three games, including 1.5 for a loss of yards. Even in the coverage facet of his game, while room for improvement always exists, Randall has arguably been one of the Packers' best cover corners this past month.

In the third quarter of Sunday's loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Randall stuck to his assignment -- receiver Mike Wallace -- about as well as he possibly could. While Wallace made a spectacular catch for the 21-yard touchdown [above]. Randall's only fault on the play was not getting his head turned around to contest the ball -- a flaw on more than one occasion this season.

There's still six games left to play this season and six chances for Randall to increase his interception total on the year to a new career-high, and at this rate, his ability to create opportunities for his teammates stands above any interception total.

"He's a football player," said Packers veteran safety Morgan Burnett after Thursday's practice. "He understands the game, and when you have that part, that really helps you out. Just understanding the game and trusting your game: that's what makes the difference in this league."

Randall wasn't out to prove anyone wrong this season. Not even after missing six games in 2016 -- in what was an injury-riddled season for Packers defensive backs -- in the wake of groin surgery.

He's played in all 10 games for the Packers in his third season, already matching his total from 2016, and he's beginning to show flashes of why the team drafted him at the tail-end of the first round in the 2015 draft.

It's not about dwelling over the losses of Casey Hayward or Micah Hyde -- two former Packers cornerbacks who went on to have stellar careers in Los Angeles and Buffalo, respectively -- but appreciating the little things. Appreciating the step-by-step self-improvements as a player gradually matures in the midst of his development. Randall is a perfect example.


Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV and a contributor/analyst for the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (8) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Razer's picture

My frustration with Randall stems more from his attitude and immaturity. Looking around at his teammates like they were the problem is such a Dez Bryant/Jay Cutler thing to do. He also seems to leave the field with some ailment after he has been torched only to return later in the game unless, of course, if he is sitting on the bench pouting. Bottom-line is that I expect more from our 1st round pick in both performance and leadership. If he wants to see what that looks like, I suggest that he sits down with Kenny Clark.

nigrivasilayesrej's picture

Agreed, Randall needs to grow up & accept responsibility when he messes up. That said, I think he has talent & could be a good player in this league. I think the bigger problem is the DEF scheme. IMO, Dinosaur Dom rarely puts players in position to succeed. When Stafford basically admitted that they knew when & where GB was sending blitzes, that told me all I needed to know. It's no coincidence that guys like Hayward & Hyde leave, because they are JAGS in our DEF, & immediately become playmakers on other teams. That screams scheme problem to me.

egbertsouse's picture

Another article touting a player who has elevated his game to barely adequate. “Sigh.”

Stafford should have known the blitzes, Dom has been running them since 1990. OCs have had 27 years to figure them out.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Dom Capers SUCKS...its not the players

Samson's picture

My guess:--- Damarious Randall will not live up to his drafting status, not be offered a 2nd contract by GB and meander to another team via free agency.

His only hope to remain in GB and be a "good" player is if the entire GB coaching staff exits after the 2017 season.

J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

Wow, a lot of vitriol for a player who made a mistake, righted the ship and improved markedly after the pout pout. I thought Americans loved seeing people strive after a second chance. I, for one, am very pleased to see him make some plays. Mind you, he's not Revis island level yet, but I won't complain about a play maker on this roster. We need all we can get!

Samson's picture

"a lot of vitriol "

Not really. -- Considering his draft position, he should be producing better than what he has to this point. -- I'd love to see him improve & justify his draft status , but the history of TT high draft picks says other wise.

Oppy's picture

I don't expect many people to be able to understand this mindset, but ultimately, 'draft status' means next to nothing when evaluating a player.

It's a completely artifical measuring stick. The only thing a player's draft status has actual impact on is pay scale (which has zero to do with actual performace)... And since the new CBA years ago, rookie payscale, particularly for 1st and 2nd round picks, has been considerably reeled in.

You can argue that because a high draft pick gets paid more than a low draft pick, that a higher draft pick is required to play at a higher level, however, if you want to attach performance and output to dollars spent, you really have to evaluate the entire draft class vs. pay, not a player- since there are players who probably are playing "better" than their "draft status" and therefore their pay level.

Second, the NFL doesn't just have a salary cap, it also has a salary floor, so the money has to be spent to a great extent, one way or another.

While it's true that typically high draft picks in rd 1- mid 2nd rd are statistically more likely to suceed in the NFL than those lower picks, the number of players who fail to see a second contract in the NFL is still staggeringly high. Draft status means nothing after the draft except starting pay grade. People need to get it out of their head. Fans and owners care about draft status. Coaches certainly don't.

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