Rueben Randle is an offensive player, but Wednesday he was playing some defense. Not against football players, but against the idea that he's not working hard enough.
The Giants' rookie receiver, who played sparingly in Sunday night's game against the Eagles, was the subject of comments from NBC's Cris Collinsworth during the broadcast. Collinsworth noted that some people with the Giants were questioning Randle's work ethic and were hoping that he grows up and becomes more of a professional.
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"I've heard about it, but I'm not really sure what he's referring to," Randle said Wednesday. "As a rookie you come in and you're going to struggle and things like that. My job here is to continue to work hard and gain the trust of my teammates and the coaching staff each and every week and take advantage of the opportunities that are given."
Tom Coughlin dismissed Collinsworth's critique (which was not his own but likely something he echoed from someone inside the organization). "He's trying, he's working hard," Coughlin said of Randle. "I'm not paying attention to someone else's opinion. He's a young guy that wants to do well."
But among the players, there seemed little effort to diffuse the story.
"Rueben's young and he's trying to figure out what it takes to try to compete and get mentally and physically ready for upcoming games," Eli Manning said. "He has talent. He's been working better in understanding just how we work and how we prepare each week and he's been getting more reps these last few weeks so he's doing a good job of putting everything together."
Fellow receiver Domenik Hixon said he's tried to set an example for Randle for what's expected of him.
"When you come to the Giants' facility, we're working," Hixon said. "[He's] just trying to get his feet underneath him with the schedule and everything. Probably one of the most odd things is at [pro] football you go home, you don't go to class, so that's your study time, that's when you study tape and do different things like that. [He's] just getting adjusted to the schedule."
Randle, who will likely have an increased role in the offense this week due to injuries to Hakeem Nicks (knee/foot) and Ramses Barden (concussion), said he has not heard from any Giants coaches who want him to work harder. They have, though, voiced a desire to see him play "faster." That means having a more detailed knowledge of the offense and putting in more time studying.
"The offense is complex and you have different routes for different coverages," Randle said. "[I'll] just pick up on the plays a lot faster with film study."
And then he can catch more passes than criticism.