Until he signed his one-year contract tender, Victor Cruz was missing in action and Hakeem Nicks returned to the New York Giants for mini-camp after skipping voluntary OTAs, but that doesn't mean the Giants' passing attack will dry up and blow away.
If the vision of offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride holds true, second-year wideout Rueben Randle is poised for a breakthrough season. Even with Cruz finally on board, at least for this season, Gilbride promised Randle will get his chance.
"Oh, he is going to play - he is going to play a lot," Gilbride said at the conclusion of mini-camp. "He will play first and second-downs. He will be an outside receiver for us. Whether he is at the ‘X' or the ‘Z," he is going to play. He is looking like he deserves to be out there a significant time."
Randle, the Giants' second-round draft pick in 2012, caught just 19 passes for 298 yards as a rookie, but did have his moments. In a Week 5 win over the Cleveland Browns, Randle had six catches for 82 yards. Saving his best for last, Randle pulled in four passes for 58 yards and two touchdowns in the Giants' 42-7 rout of the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17. This spring, Randle has taken advantage of increased repetitions and could emerge as a primary target if Cruz's absence extends into training camp.
Carpe diem: Seize the day. Yes, Randle has captured Gilbride's attention.
"No question Rueben benefitted," Gilbride said. "I would say that he and the guys in the slot position benefited the most. Rueben, you see emerge from a guy that showed flashes at times. He always caught the ball well, but maybe didn't always run the routes as precisely, as crisply, as you wanted. He didn't have quite the understanding you wanted. He looked like a guy that has been here for five or six years. He really benefitted from the opportunity."
Randle's objective was to increase his work ethic and approach to the game. The attitude adjustment is paying off.
"His whole demeanor, his whole professionalism, was outstanding," Gilbride said. "Now is that because they weren't here or just because he had more reps? I don't know, but he certainly stepped into a leadership role. Not only did he grow, he kind of became the bell cow of the receiving corps. He was first in line. He did all of those things. That was not what we saw last year; not by a longshot. So to see him growing like that was a great step forward for him, which will help us down the road."
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