Randle returning to scene of turning point

August, 17, 2013
8/17/13
10:00
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The last time Rueben Randle suited up for a game at MetLife Stadium, he gave the New York Giants a glimpse into his potential.

In the 2012 season finale, Randle burned the Eagles for two touchdowns on four catches for 58 yards, showing why the Giants used a second-round pick on him.

[+] EnlargeRueben Randle
AP Photo/Evan PinkusRueben Randle scored two TDs last Dec. 30 at MetLife Stadium.
That game started a strong run for Randle, one of the team's standout performers during the spring and in training camp. Randle and the Giants host the Indianapolis Colts in their second preseason game, at 7 p.m. Sunday.

"I wanted to continue to build off the last game I had," Randle said. "I played a lot faster and didn't want to take any steps back, and I continue to push forward and become a better player for the team."

Randle, 22, didn't see the field much last season, catching just 19 passes for 298 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie. Randle acknowledged it took some time to pick up the Giants' offense, learning the specifics of what he was supposed to do on each play.

Using that last game as a starting point, Randle worked hard in the offseason to ensure he could have more productive games in his sophomore season. He studied the notes he gathered during the season, looking for whatever tidbits he could use to grow as a player.

Randle, whose work ethic was questioned last season, said he has matured as player and has a better understanding of what the team wants from him. He has worked to develop a rapport with quarterback Eli Manning, and has worked on playing the game "faster."

"I think I became faster at recognizing coverages, safety rotations and things like that," Randle said. "That took time, just multiple reps, seeing everything. They try to disguise it and throw you off balance, so my recognition of certain coverages has picked up to where it was last year."

As Randle tries to lock down the No. 3 receiver spot, he's also in the mix to return punts.

He returned 15 punts last season, but the team might want to cut back on that role with Randle expected to see increased playing time.

"I feel like I can do it since I understand the offense better," Randle said of punt-return duty. "I can take on that role and do a great job with that also. If they need me to do it, I'll be willing to do it."

In the opening preseason game against Pittsburgh last Saturday, Randle had just catch one catch for 16 yards and failed to connect with Manning on a deep ball. Those are the types of plays Randle is looking to make in his quest to become a playmaker for the Giants in 2013 and beyond.

"Just come off the ball a little bit faster. Because that's when I would be a step away from making a play. That's kind of what I took from that play, missing the opportunity," Randle said. "This week I look to come off the ball a little bit faster so if the opportunity does come, I can get to those balls."

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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