Tom Coughlin seems befuddled by the Rueben Randle Riddle. Asked on Monday why the No. 2 receiver has not had a more positive impact, Coughlin gave a verbal shrug.
“That’s a very good question,” he said. “That’s a question which, quite frankly, if I were to answer, I would be speaking to Rueben.”
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And that spoke volumes about his frustration.
Randle has been the target on interceptions in the end zone in each of the last two games. Against Washington, a pass was slightly behind him. On Sunday against the Jets, on the key fourth-and-2 play from the 4, he ran a slant but appeared to stop his route when it was covered. Eli Manning threw to him and was picked off.
“The safety came down and I would’ve had to work a second window or come back to my back on a route, but they got pressure and I didn’t have that luxury,” Eli Manning said of the Jets’ coverage of the rub route with Randle and Dwayne Harris. “Still, thought I could maybe hit Rueben just kind of running by.”
Only Randle had stopped running.
“The defender wasn’t looking at me, he was looking at Rueben,” Manning said. “I thought Rueben could run by him and still possibly make the catch or get an interference call. Didn’t work out that way, though.”
Randle did a series of pre-scheduled radio interviews on Tuesday, and that play came up in conversation.
“I lost vision of [Manning] and in my mind, I’m thinking he’s getting ready to stroll out of the pocket a little bit and move around,” Randle said on SirusXM NFL Radio. “I slowed down a little bit to prepare myself to see which direction he was going to go and at the last minute I saw the ball in the air and it was a little bit too late for me to react and make a play on it . . . I would have kept going if I could change it.”
Randle had 71 catches for 938 yards last year and seemed poised to become a big weapon for the Giants this season. Instead, he’s on pace for 56 catches and 710 yards. In the last three games he caught a total of six passes.
“It’s frustrating that you have to share time,” Randle told WFAN. “I’m getting my reps cut a little bit, so my opportunities are cut down a little more. Odell [Beckham Jr.] is pretty much the prime target for us offensively, so everyone else is real ly just trying to go out there and make plays when the opportunity is called. It’s definitely frustrating. As a receiver, you want to get more involved in the game and it’s kind of tough when the opportunities are limited for you to make an impact on the game.”
Randle has the second-most targets on the team with 67, but that’s about half of the 133 Beckham has. Last year, Randle had 127 targets and Beckham (who played in only 12 games) had 130.
When Randle does catch them, they are usually significant. He had a 41-yard touchdown that defibrillated the offense against Washington. And he made a terrific catch against the Jets that helped set up the decision for the Giants to go for the touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“The ball was thrown in his direction and he made a nice adjustment and catch,” Coughlin said of the 16-yard completion to the 4. Had Randle not made that grab, the Giants likely would have kicked a field goal and taken a 13-point lead.
That only furthers the conundrum of Randle.
“Last Wednesday Rueben practiced very well,” Coughlin said. “Thursday was OK, not great.”
And Sunday? Head-scratchingly inconsistent. Just like always.
DeOssie, Donnell to IR. The Giants placed long snapper Zak DeOssie (wrist) and TE Larry Donnell (neck) on injured reserve on Tuesday. They signed LS Danny Aiken, who was with the Patriots from 2011-14, and promoted CB Tramain Jacobs from their practice squad to fill the spots on the 53-man roster.