The accolades are starting to roll in for Damarious Randall.
The Green Bay Packers’ rookie first-round pick, who recently became a full-fledged starter, was honored as the NFL’s defensive rookie of the month after recording 24 tackles, two interceptions and five passes defensed in November.
The Packers surprised some when they drafted Randall with the 30th-overall pick in this year’s draft, but he’s made a seamless conversion to outside cornerback after playing safety for two years at Arizona State.
In addition to his interceptions off Denver’s Peyton Manning and Carolina’s Cam Newton, he also deflected Philip Rivers’ fourth-and-goal pass in October to secure a 27-20 win over San Diego and recovered an on-side kick three weeks ago against Detroit which gave the Packers a chance at a game-winning drive.
The 5-foot-11, 196-pound cornerback has 42 tackles, two interceptions and a team-high 12 passes defensed.
Randall is the first Packers player to win rookie of the month since running back Eddie Lacy in October 2013. He’s the first defensive player honored since Casey Hayward earned the distinction in October 2012. Hayward went on to finish third in NFL defensive rookie of the year balloting.
Randall has played in all 11 regular-season games this year, but is questionable to play Thursday night against Detroit due to knee and hamstring injuries. Randall left with a knee sprain in last Thursday’s 17-13 loss to Chicago and didn’t return.
The rookie was back on the practice field this week, but apparently aggravated his lingering hamstring strain during Wednesday’s final run-through.
The Packers have nominated inside linebacker Sam Barrington for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
Each NFL team nominates one player for the league's highest honor recognizing community work. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, last year’s nominee, was among the finalists for the award last year that eventually went to Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis.
The NFL has created a new format this year where fans are given the chance to help players gain an additional $20,000 for their cause through a social-media challenge. To vote for Barrington, use the unique hashtag (#BarringtonWPMOYChallenge) on any of their social media accounts. Voting ends Dec. 31, 2015.
Barrington, currently on injured reserve, received the 2015 community service award at the annual Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce "Welcome Back" luncheon earlier this season, and been involved in the NFL’s Play 60 program, Salvation Army, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and PALS chapters.
Inside linebacker Jake Ryan may see increased playing time against the Lions.
The NFL Network is reporting the rookie fourth-round pick could either start or receive a more prominent role in the Packers’ defense on Thursday night. The Packers have started third-year linebacker Nate Palmer next to Clay Matthews since Barrington injured his foot in the opener against Chicago.
It looked like Ryan was on the verge of winning the job when he replaced a benched Palmer and produced 10 tackles last month against the Carolina. However, Palmer returned to the starting lineup the following week against the Lions and has played a majority of the base and nickel snaps since then.
The Packers have started only one rookie - D.J. Smith (three games) - at inside linebacker in Dom Capers' six-plus seasons as defensive coordinator.
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