Randall picks good time to raise his game
GREEN BAY - For a player who spent the past week on the injury report because of a knee injury, Damarious Randall had a long way to run.
He didn’t need a touchdown. The Packers were less than one minute away from a 38-13 NFC wild-card win against the Giants at Lambeau Field. Their second-year cornerback kept running down the left sideline.
Randall started in his own end zone after intercepting Giants quarterback Eli Manning’s pass intended for rookie receiver Sterling Shepard. He was 30 yards from the end zone when, without being touched, Randall finally stumbled.
“Maybe I need to do some more sprints after practice,” Randall said Monday, smiling.
It was OK to be lighthearted about the end of Sunday’s game. Randall won’t say he needed a confidence boost, but his solid play against the Giants sure didn’t hurt. It came 17 games into an up-and-down second season for the former first-round pick.
Randall has had to play through multiple injuries this season. First, there was groin surgery in late October. Then there was a shoulder injury. Then a knee. If nothing else, Randall’s sprint down the left sideline Sunday showed he’s feeling better.
“The greatest I’ve felt after a game this whole entire year,” Randall said.
Randall certainly could be showing some gamesmanship with another playoff matchup coming Sunday, but the Packers need him playing at his best when they travel to Dallas. Randall has maintained there’s nothing wrong with his confidence a healthy body won’t fix.
On Sunday, Randall had his best game since intercepting Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson twice last month. Along with his interception, Randall also defended three passes.
Randall was involved in the Giants’ lone touchdown, a 41-yard pass to receiver Tavarres King. It appeared Randall was expecting help from safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix over the top, but he wouldn’t say what happened on the play.
“Just some miscommunication,” Randall said, “but we aren’t going to discuss that.”If Randall is healthy, he could give the Packers a solid perimeter corner duo with LaDarius Gunter. Fellow cornerback Quinten Rollins remains in concussion protocol, and his availability Sunday is uncertain.
Randall and Gunter have different skill sets, giving the Packers a variety in their secondary. In the playoffs, it’s good to have options.
“We are two different type of guys,” Randall said. “I mean, he’s the more big, physical guy. I am more of a little, shiftier guy. We can just match up in different ways with different weapons.
“We’ve got a lot of versatility back there.”