GREEN BAY — It turns out Damarious Randall’s curious 2017 season had another twist to it: The Green Bay Packers third-year cornerback played through a hand injury that bothered him all season and required surgery.
Randall, who ended the year as the Packers’ most reliable cover man, had the surgery Monday. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which was first to report the minor procedure, reported that Randall had a small bone fixed in his hand at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.
ESPN reported that Randall faces a six- to eight-week recovery, which should have him back to 100 percent by the time the Packers start their official offseason program in mid-April. He becomes the second Packers defensive starter to undergo a minor surgery since the season ended. Outside linebacker Clay Matthews had a “clean-up” procedure on his knee, ESPN reported last week.
Randall, the Packers’ first-round pick in 2015, finished his rookie season strong but dealt with injuries and inconsistent play in 2016. In 2017, he had a much-publicized incident on the Packers’ sideline during a Sept. 28 win over the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field, and Packers coach Mike McCarthy kicked him off the bench and sent him to the locker room during the game as a result.
To his credit, Randall bounced back from that incident — although he later said he didn’t really learn anything from it and it didn’t lead to any introspection on his part — to lead the Packers with four interceptions, including one that he returned for a touchdown at Dallas in Week 5.
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No Packers cornerback played more snaps than Randall, who saw action on 717 of the team’s 1,052 defensive snaps (68.2 percent), and during the second half of the season, Randall was matching up with opponents’ top receivers, including Cleveland’s Josh Gordon, with whom he went back and forth on Twitter after that game, which the Packers won.
Randall battled several other minor injury issues throughout the season before missing the final two games with a knee injury after the Packers were eliminated from playoff contention.
“I feel like I left everything out there on the field this year,” Randall said when players cleaned out their lockers on Jan. 2. “I just feel like moving on to next year and being more consistent, and making plays, and controlling the things I can control.”
One thing McCarthy would like to see Randall control is his focus on his own performance. Randall was critical of the Packers defense late in the year and of defensive coordinator Dom Capers, who was fired following the Packers’ season-ending loss at Detroit on Dec. 31.
McCarthy initially chalked Randall’s comments up as “words of frustration,” but then was harsher in his assessment of Randall’s comments than he was of safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix’s. Clinton-Dix questioned the motivation of some players and argued that it contributed to the Packers’ defensive struggles.
In his response to Randall’s remarks, McCarthy said, “I’ll tell you what I told Damarious: He needs to focus on himself. He’s got to clean his own house. That’s what I look for him to do in the offseason. He did a lot of really good things. We all understand what happened in the Chicago game, but I thought from the Chicago game on he played at a very high level. He probably played the best football of his career, but then he didn’t play the last two games. He needs to go home and self-evaluate and clean his own house. We all need to clean our own house.”