EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- As a rookie, Rueben Randle gave the Giants a nice glimpse of what he's capable of in the season finale against Philadelphia.
During that 42-7 win over the Eagles at the end of 2012, the wide receiver had four catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns. Not a bad way to cap his first NFL campaign.
"Just boosted the confidence a little bit,” Randle said of what that game did for him. “Just let the coaches know what I can do, prove to those guys and to the teammates the type of player that I am.”
Sunday at Detroit, Randle will have another opportunity to show the coaching staff and quarterback Eli Manning what he's capable of doing with a starter's workload. Victor Cruz is out for the remaining two games with a knee injury. Randle hopes to capitalize and show that he can be an every-down starter for the Giants. If Hakeem Nicks doesn't return after free agency, Randle is the natural candidate to slide right in.
"I am trying,” Randle said of proving he can fill Nicks' cleats if necessary. “I don’t know if I have [shown that yet] or not. That is definitely the case that I am trying to prove.”
This season has been a struggle for Nicks, who is in a contract year. Nicks has just 50 catches for 794 yards and is looking to score his first touchdown of the season against the Lions.
Regardless of what happens with Nicks, the Giants likely have to find a bigger role for Randle to continue the former second-round pick's growth.
The second-year Randle has been much more of a factor in the end zone than Nicks, recording a team-high six touchdowns. Randle, though, would like to have more than 37 receptions for 571 yards so far.
The third season is typically when most receivers experience a breakout showing. Randle, though, said he felt his second year has been a breakout of sorts from a mental perspective.
"Maybe from a numbers standpoint," Randle said when asked if the third year for a receiver is the biggest breakout season. "But I felt like I made an improvement and got better this year. Maybe bigger numbers next year."
Of course, Randle still has time to add to his numbers for this season. And he would like to pad them significantly to show what he can do with a bigger role and propel himself into the offseason with a big finish.
"Would have liked to have done a lot more," he said of this season so far. "Just trying to get better and finish out the season strong and make some more plays and end on a good note and look forward to next year."