JS reporter Tom Silverstein and ex-Packers All-Pro safety LeRoy Butler discuss what led up to the benching of Packers cornerback Damarious Randall in the Bears game Thursday night. Bill Schulz
GREEN BAY - The bizarre disappearance of Green Bay Packers cornerback Damarious Randall, who vanished from the sideline in the second half of Thursday’s win over the Chicago Bears, turned out to be an order from coach Mike McCarthy.
Randall was sent to the locker room to finish the game in a metaphorical timeout.
“It was a coach’s decision,” McCarthy said during his Friday news conference. “My decision to send him to the locker room and frankly, we’ve got to be real honest here, we’re going to start evaluating and regulating conversation and things that go on on an NFL sideline? Let’s be real here. I know someone might make a good drama series out of it or something, but it’s not going to happen here.
“It’s an internal matter as I stated (Thursday) night. Anytime things happen throughout the course of our operation, whether it’s in a game, practice and so forth, I can promise you there’s dialogue and it’s an internal matter that’s being handled internally. I will make it clear because it was on the field, it was a coach’s decision, my decision, for Damarious to go into the locker room.”
Randall began Thursday’s game against the Bears as a starter in the base defense opposite rookie Kevin King. He had an uneventful first half until the closing moments of the second quarter, when a blown coverage resulted in a touchdown pass from quarterback Mike Glennon to wide receiver Kendall Wright.
The Bears lined up three receivers to the left of the formation, and the Packers responded accordingly with three defenders of their own. Randall was the defender closest to the middle of the field. When the ball was snapped, Wright ran by him for an easy touchdown reception in the back corner of the end zone.
Immediately, Randall threw up his hands in frustration as if he was searching for help from a teammate. It appeared Randall was playing zone coverage while the other defensive backs on that side of the line were in man to man.
Randall’s frustration carried over to the sideline, where he pouted for much of the third quarter after the coaches replaced him with Josh Hawkins. He was gone from the sideline shortly thereafter.
“I’ve addressed the decision that was made and also addressed the environment that we’re working in,” McCarthy said. “So it was a coach’s decision to have him leave the field. Conversation always goes on in any type of situation, and when we come back Tuesday, Damarious will be ready to roll with the rest of our football team.
A report from NFL Network on Friday said there was an argument between Randall and a member of the coaching staff. The report also said Randall may have left the stadium before the game had finished.
When asked, McCarthy would not directly address the details of the report. He noted, however, that cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. has moved from the coaching box upstairs to the sideline, switching places with inside linebacker coach Scott McCurley.
“I think like anything in life, and particularly professional sports and this particular situation, we can all grow,” McCarthy said. “And (Randall) has some growing to do.”