In defense of Damarious Randall: Packers think he'll learn from mistakes

"He played fast. He tackled. He played with great energy. That’s all. Now do that moving forward," cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said of Damarious Randall. "Everything else that happened, we’ve taken care of it. We've moved forward." Adam Wesley/USA TODAY Sports

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers are not only standing by Damarious Randall, they’re defending him.

That might be the most surprising aspect of the whole incident in which the former first-round pick was benched and then kicked off the bench in last week’s win over the Chicago Bears.

It all means there’s a good chance the third-year cornerback could be back on the field in a key role for Sunday’s game at the Dallas Cowboys.

Randall, the 30th overall pick in the 2015 draft, was benched after Bears receiver Kendall Wright caught a 5-yard touchdown pass with 8 seconds left in the second quarter. Wright caught a fade pass over Randall, who reacted as if he expected coverage help from a teammate. That was Randall’s last play of the game.

Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt and defensive coordinator Dom Capers put Josh Hawkins in Randall’s spot to start the second half. It was at some point after that when Randall, who was seen sitting on the bench during the third quarter, was told by coach Mike McCarthy to leave the sideline.

“All 'D' needs to do is play the way he had played up until that play,” Whitt said Thursday evening during his first session with reporters since the game. “He played fast. He tackled. He played with great energy. That’s all. Now do that moving forward. Everything else that happened, we’ve taken care of it. We’ve moved forward. This is family business. When you have issues in your family, you don’t tell everybody, do you?”

Whitt went out of his way to make it clear that Randall “did not blow a coverage” on the touchdown to Wright, which Capers said was a man-to-man call. Whitt, however, acknowledged that “there’s a difference between getting beat and blowing a coverage.”

When asked if Randall got beat on that play, Whitt said: "I’m not going to talk about that."

A day earlier, Randall refused to get into details about what happened -- either on the field or on the sideline -- but admitted that he has some “growing up” to do and needs to be “little bit more professional.”

“Well he's a young player, [and] young players are going to make mistakes and learn from them,” Capers said. “So we feel that Damarious has done that and we're moving forward. That's the way you grow, is you learn from things and so then you put it behind you and you use it to move forward in terms of going out and getting the job done.”

It’s been a rough 12 months for Randall, who after a promising rookie season has been in and out of the lineup because of both injuries and poor performances. He was benched on at least one occasion last season.

But he went into this season intent on showing that he’s a better player than what was on film last season. Even after last week’s incident, it appears he will get that chance again.

“He spoke to the defense and as he had said to you guys, he’ll put this behind him,” Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said. “I’m sure everything was handled between him and coach as far as what needed to be discussed but as far as between the players and everything, he said just moving forward he’ll act more like a pro and be more accountable. I think that’s all you can ask for.

“We’re all growing in this thing, we’re all teammates. We all have the upmost confidence and faith in one another, and we need to. The fact that he was able to get up and let us know that he was wrong and he’s going to make it right, I think, hopefully, that’s what we need from him. Ultimately, his name is going to be called again, and we’re going to expect him to make plays against great receivers moving forward.”