Rueben Randle ready for bigger role in offense
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) New York Giants wide receiver Rueben Randle is taking advantage of his opportunities so far in training camp.
Judging by his confidence level and intensity at camp, he seems ready for the challenge and wants first chance at being the team's No. 2 receiver behind Pro Bowler Victor Cruz.
''I am more comfortable and more confident,'' Randle said before Friday's practice session.
''I think I still have to prove myself, but I can go out and make plays. I don't know if there's any pressure on me, but of course, that's what I want to do. I want to be on the field and make plays. I'm confident in my ability. It's as simple as that.''
Randle had a breakout season in 2013, catching 41 passes for 611 yards and six touchdowns.
The former LSU standout, drafted by the Giants in the second round of the 2012 draft, had 19 receptions for 298 yards and three TDs as a rookie.
''I'm very excited to get more opportunities,'' said the 23-year-old Randle. ''The new (West Coast) offense fits everybody well. We're all on the same page. I love it, because it puts me in the position to make plays.''
Randle missed a day earlier in the week with a tight hamstring that he now says is fine.
He will play Sunday night in the preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.
First-round draft pick Odell Beckham, Jr., who was counted on to be a contributor right away, has been slowed by a hamstring injury that has kept him out of all spring activities and the early part of training camp.
Veteran Mario Manningham, signed as a free agent in the offseason, was brought back to where he began his career, but he has yet to recover from offseason knee surgery and has been seen minimally during the training camp thus far.
Randle was a mentor to Beckham when the two were at LSU, and now he's trying to do the same with the Giants.
''It's been frustrating for him, because I know he wants to be out there on the field,'' Randle said. ''We talk all the time and I'm trying to help him with things outside of football. We're focusing on that. He'll be fine once he gets back onto the field.''
Cruz believes that Randle can be the Giants' No. 2 receiving threat this season.
''He's showing he's ready to step it up this year,'' Cruz said of Randle. ''He's made a point of emphasis to show us what he can do. He's asking and answering questions in our meeting room. He's going through things he never did before. He's more attentive. I think he can be a great player for us, as long as he's physically ready to go. I have confidence in him and I think he now has confidence in himself.''
Cruz is excited to get a chance to face the Bills on Sunday.
''I've never been there, so I'm excited to go,'' Cruz said. ''I want to see all the statues. I'm going to use that as motivation. I'm excited for Michael Strahan and Andre Reed (two of this year's Hall of Fame inductees). We're going to see how well we know the new offense. This puts us right to the test.''
''We have the capability to do great things this season,'' Randle said. ''I'm just doing what they ask me to do. But I'm very excited about getting more opportunities to catch the ball.''
NOTES: Beckham did appear at practice, fielding punts in drills, but did no running. ... DE Robert Ayers, who left Thursday's practice with a sprained right ankle, did not practice Friday, which means his chances of playing Sunday are slim. ... OT Will Beatty, who left Thursday's practice with an undisclosed illness, returned Friday. ... The Giants signed free agent OT Adam Gress on Friday and placed OT Troy Kropog on the injured reserve list. The 6-foot-7, 300-pound Gress is a rookie free agent from Penn State, where he started 12 games last season. Kropog is a four-year veteran, who signed with the Giants in January. He sustained a foot injury in practice last week. ... Rookie CB Bennett Jackson of Notre Dame suffered what coach Tom Coughlin called ''a significant sprain'' of his ankle in a collision with fellow rookie WR Corey Washington at the end of Thursday's practice, so Jackson could be out for an extended period.