Aaron Nagler talks about the latest Packers-Cowboys news and takes questions from readers on Facebook Live. (Oct. 5, 2017)
GREEN BAY - Until he was beaten in man coverage for a touchdown, the Green Bay Packers were pleased with how cornerback Damarious Randall had played in their game last week against the Chicago Bears.
There were no glaring errors — or even small ones — before Bears receiver Kendall Wright ran past Randall on a corner route from the 5-yard line with eight seconds left in the first half.
Randall has had rough games in his past, but this wasn’t one. No, this was becoming one of Randall’s better showings.
With one play, all that positive momentum crumbled.
Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. declined to disclose details of a sideline exchange that led to coach Mike McCarthy asking Randall to leave the sideline and enter the locker room midway through the Packers' win against the Bears. In keeping the issues internal and stressing the need to move forward, the Packers hope they can somehow recapture the solid play Randall gave them before the final seconds of last week’s opening half.
“All D needs to do,” Whitt said, “is play the way he had played up until that play. 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.”
Whitt occasionally went as far as defending Randall on Thursday afternoon. He was adamant his cornerback had not blown his coverage against Wright, no matter how wide open the Bears receiver was in the end zone.
By definition, Whitt said, a cornerback must play the wrong coverage in order for it to be blown. So even though defensive coordinator Dom Capers said the Packers were in man coverage on the play, and Randall wasn’t close to defending Wright, Whitt did not count it as blown coverage.
That doesn’t mean Randall wasn’t beaten.
“I’m not going to talk about that,” Whitt said.
The Packers replaced Randall, their first-round pick in 2015, with former undrafted corner Josh Hawkins. Whitt said he liked how Hawkins played against the Bears, and foreshadowed more snaps in his future.
But the Packers aren’t ready to move on from Randall.
“He's a young player,” Capers said. “Young players are going to make mistakes and learn from them. We felt 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.”
Before moving forward, Randall addressed his teammates on the Packers' defense. Outside linebacker Clay Matthews said he heard enough to maintain confidence in Randall.
“He’ll put this behind him,” Matthews said, “and 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 utmost 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."