- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Rueben Randle may have had an NFL-level playing skills when the Giants selected him the second round of this year's draft. But he wasn't ready to be a professional in the NFL.
New York Giants
The wide receiver's work ethic was questioned on a national broadcast earlier in the year, and even Giants wide receivers coach Kevin M. Gilbride acknowledged Monday that the former LSU star needed some work in adapting to life in the NFL.
"He didn't come in knowing how to be a professional," Gilbride said. "It's a long day for these guys as far as how they go about their business and try to prepare for an opponent. And if you haven't been through it in a professional setting, it's different. There's always a little bit of a shock to a rookie's system in that regard."
Through 10 games in Randle's rookie season, Gilbride has noticed improvement in in the way Randle is adapting to all aspects of playing in the NFL. The wide receiver has just 11 catches for 158 yards on the year, but is getting a fair share of touches as the team's No. 3 wide receiver. He's still looking for the first score of his career.
"He's getting better. He's really improving in that area, whether it's his level of focus or his level of understanding and understanding of what it takes to be ready for a game," Gilbride said. "All those facets are improving."
The questions surrounding Randle's work ethic came into play when NBC announcer Chris Collinsworth said during the Giants game against the Eagles on Sept. 30 that the team is hoping Randle grows up and starts acting more like a professional. Even teammate Victor Cruz told the New York Post that Randle needs to act like he wants to be here, and improve in certain areas.
To the receiver's credit, the following week he received his first extended playing time and had the best game of his career, catching six passes for 82 yards in a win over the Browns. While Randle has only caught four balls for 72 yards since then, largely because the team's receiving unit is intact, Gilbride believes that game showcased the confidence the youngster has in his play.
"I think his confidence was building and hopefully continues to build as he continues to learn and digest what we're trying to get done, and really, his execution of how we're getting it done," Gilbride said." And it's progressed and needs to continue to progress to help our team down the stretch."
As Randle continues to improve as a receiver, and in handling the grind of the NFL, more opportunities should come. Although he may not finish with eye-popping statistics for the season, there's still plenty of time for Randle to help the Giants get back to the playoffs.
"He’s doing a good job, he is running the right routes and he is getting open," Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. "We got to figure out ways to get him the ball and get him more involved."