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On the road back, Damarious Randall has 'productive day'

Clay Matthews ready at inside LB if needed and glad to get a game under his belt


GREEN BAY – Damarious Randall wasn't promising he'd be back in action on Monday night in Philadelphia, but signs are pointing to it being a realistic possibility.

"Just taking it day by day. Today was a productive day," the second-year Packers cornerback said after Friday's practice. "As long as my body is feeling good, I guess the injury feels good."

Randall has missed the last five games and six of the past seven due to a groin injury, and as Green Bay's secondary has been victimized by big plays the past two games, he's been sorely missed.

The Packers made it official earlier this week that veteran corner Sam Shields would not be coming back this year, so the importance of Randall's return to help the pass defense has been heightened.

"He's a playmaker and he's made plays just in his limited time in the league," safety Morgan Burnett said. "He's excited, ready to roll, and we're looking forward to getting him back out there."

The Packers have just one interception from a cornerback this season, and it was Randall back in Week 3 vs. Detroit. He ripped the ball away from Lions tight end Eric Ebron and raced 44 yards the other way to set up a Green Bay field goal. That marked his fifth career interception in 20 total games to that point, including last year's playoffs.

Randall, a limited participant in practice thus far this week, emphasized that he's not going to return to the field until he's ready, but the team's four-game losing streak has been difficult on players and spectators alike.

"It is tough to watch any team that you're on lose games," he said. "That's the toughest part, just watching us lose. I'm just happy that I'm able to even have a shot at playing this week."

Another defender with a shot is inside linebacker Jake Ryan, who also was a limited participant in Friday's practice. Ryan has been out since the opening moments of the Tennessee game two weeks ago with an ankle injury.

With Blake Martinez (knee) out this week and Ryan's status up in the air, linebacker Clay Matthews said he's taken a glance at the playbook just in case he has to move inside from his customary edge spot at any point.

So far, Matthews has practiced strictly outside, though, which is probably a good sign as it relates to Ryan. Matthews returned last week from an injury of his own, and while his impact on defense wasn't what the Packers are accustomed to from Matthews, the good news is he got through a full game without any hamstring issues.

"You never feel like you can really cut it loose until you get that first game under your belt," said Matthews, who has dealt with hamstring injuries in the past.

He played 54 of 66 snaps last Sunday in Washington, more than he anticipated going in after missing three straight games. Matthews is not on the injury report this week for the first time since mid-October.

"When you're accustomed to playing a certain way, it's difficult, especially when you lose in that manner," Matthews said of last week's game. "That's the biggest obstacle in coming back.

"I feel a lot better in practice, and you have more confidence in yourself to cut it loose. I feel like this week, yeah, I should be able to open up a little more and do things I'm accustomed to doing."

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