Rueben Randle had one of the most thankless jobs on the Giants yesterday: Killjoy.
The rookie receiver was assigned the task of determining whether David Wilson would bring kickoff returns out of the end zone or stay safely behind the goal line for a touchback. Twice he put the brakes on Wilson, who was clearly itching to break one. After the second stop sign, Wilson even jumped up and slapped the ball in frustration.
(What is it with these Giants running back slapping people and things in frustration anyway?)
Randle said it was “kind of weird” to have that responsibility, but he enjoyed it.
“If I see him back too deep, at least five yards, I want to keep him in,” Randle said. “About halfway. I’ll give him six. I give him a little leeway. But if he’s like seven or eight yards deep I’ll try to keep him in.”
That seems a little conservative for a return man who can be as explosive as Wilson, but Tom Coughlin said he thought Randle did a good job judging the risk-reward scenarios.
“He made pretty good choices, I thought,” Coughlin said. “David does not want to be held in there at all, but in some circumstances, it is the smart move.”
In the past this season Andre Brown or Da'Rel Scott have been Wilson's conscience on those returns. This time, it was a rookie telling a fellow rookie what to do. Coughlin said he was fine with that scenario.
Randle said he watched film with Wilson today and “he understood why I kept him in.”
That 6-yard rule, by the way, was put on hold after the Redskins took the lead in the fourth quarter. There the Giants were willing to roll the dice a little more. Wilson wound up taking the kickoff from a little more than six yards deep – it would probably have been right on the boundary of a touchback – and returned it to the 23. Two plays later Eli Manning hit Victor Cruz for the game-winning touchdown, but the Giants were hoping to shorten the distance a little bit on that drive.
“That last kickoff he was pretty deep,” Randle said. “I was thinking about (stopping him), but we had come to the conclusion that we were going to bring it out regardless.”