New York Giants rookie wide receiver Rueben Randle has come under some criticism after last week's game. Some, including fellow wide receiver Victor Cruz, have questioned his work ethic and maturity level. But after injuries suffered by starter Hakeem Nicks (knee) and Ramses Barden (concussion), Randle may get his chance this Sunday against the Browns to prove his head is in the game, and he's capable of making an impact when his team needs him.
First it was commentator Chris Collinsworth that chimed in saying his "work ethic has been questioned a bit with the Giants." Then after hearing Collinsworth's remarks, Victor Cruz admitted he's noticed Rueben is struggling but offered encouraging words in hopes of keeping Randle's head straight.
“Rueben has to understand that this is a business now, it’s not just come out here, lollygag, because you may not be getting as much reps as somebody else, that you shouldn’t be giving as much effort," Victor Cruz told The Post. “He has to understand that each and every day he walks in here he’s a professional and he has to perform no matter what’s being asked of him."
Randle understands as a second-round pick, expectations are high and those watching will always be critical.
“You can’t really focus on the outside,” Randle said. “As long as you know what is going on the inside and how your teammates and coaching staff feels, everything on the outside, you just got to let it stay [outside].”
What Jerry Reese saw in Randle before he was drafted was a a capable NFL receiver that could replace Mario Manningham as the Giants' third receiver. Quarterback Eli Manning has watched him in practice and is confident he can contribute now.
“He’s been getting more reps these last few weeks, so he’s doing a good job of putting everything together,” Manning said. “He’s going to have to play for us whether it is this week or sometime, he’s going to have to make some plays for us, and I believe he can do that, he can help us out.”
The coaching staff want to see Randle adjust to the higher game speed of the NFL which includes playing at a higher pace and reading the more complex defenses. Randle is working on doing so in practice while he awaits his opportunity in an actual game.
“You know, as a rookie, you’re coming in, you’re going to struggle and things like that,” Randle said. “My job here is just continue to work hard and gain trust in my teammates and the coaching staff each and every week and just take advantage of the opportunities that they give me.”
That opportunity may be here more quickly than Randle had anticipated. Hakeem Nicks' status this Sunday is still up in the air with a knee injury and news just broke that Ramses Barden suffered a concussion in last weeks' game that may also keep him from playing. Victor Cruz and Domenik Hixon would likely be the starters if Nicks and Barden can't play. That leaves Randle and Jerrel Jernigan as the options for the third receiver position. After a week of criticism, a productive game Sunday would be the best way for Randle to answer his critics and prove to his team he's NFL ready.
Photo Credit: Mike Gannon
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