EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Tom Coughlin tried to refrain from giving reporters his first impression of the New York Giants' 2012 draft picks.
But the head coach could not resist talking about one particular rookie -- the wide receiver wearing No. 82 who is trying to replace another man who made some big catches in that jersey, Mario Manningham.
"I was very impressed by (Rueben) Randle out on the field this morning," Coughlin said.
On the first day of rookie camp practice on Friday, the Giants' second-round pick out of LSU flashed some glimpses of why general manager Jerry Reese thought about taking Randle in the first round.
"He looks smooth," offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said. "He is obviously thinking [quite a bit on the field] like they all are, so you don't see maybe the explosiveness that you are expecting to see. But in terms of him going deep and down the field, he looked pretty good and did some of the things that we needed him to do."
Reese and Coughlin touted Randle as "NFL-ready" shortly after drafting him. Randle said he still has work to do to get to that level.
Like any rookie, Randle did have some hiccups, like when he had one potential catch broken up by cornerback Brandon Bing before bobbling another catch as he went out of bounds on the sideline. But there was also his deep catch, and a leaping grab near the sideline, that showed why Reese likened Randle to Hakeem Nicks.
Randle doesn't have a blazing 40-yard-dash time or incredible athleticism, like some other scouting combine specimens. But the 6-foot-2 wide receiver has game speed and the ability to make big plays, according to the Giants.
"It is not about who has got the fastest 40, but who can separate and make those plays," Randle said.
Randle hopes to prove that he should have gone higher than the final pick of the second round to the Giants. He heard some speculation that his drop was because of concerns about his work ethic and the health of his knees.
Randle believes his body language had something to do with that. As for his knees, he said he's never had surgery but did battle tendinitis late in his sophomore season.
"I've heard work ethic and knees are the two main things," Randle said of why he might've dropped. "So I am here right now trying to prove in camp that I am fine."
"It did bother me because I felt like I did work hard," he added. "I guess it is my demeanor. I am not one of those quick-twitch kind of guys. I am a strider. So it can come off as being a little lazy, but I think I work as hard as the other guys."
Randle will enter camp competing for the third wide receiver spot. The Giants have a hole to fill with Manningham's departure to San Francisco, and the candidates to replace Manningham are Randle, Jerrel Jernigan, Ramses Barden and Domenik Hixon. The Giants also are looking at receivers in rookie camp such as former Steelers second-round pick Limas Sweed, who hasn't played in a regular-season game since 2009 after suffering an Achilles injury, and undrafted rookies such as Arizona's David Douglas and UMass' Julian Talley.
"In what you see on film, it looks like you have a receiver who is capable of making some deep catches and running by some people," Gilbride said of Randle. "You need that third component so that when people start clamping down on [Victor] Cruz and Nicks, you got a guy that if it is one-on -one can get over the top and hurt people like Manningham did. Whether it is Jernigan or Ramses Barden or Rueben Randle, we need somebody to do that."
Randle certainly already looks the part, between his jersey number and his size on the field. And if he makes more catches like the one he did on a deep pattern past Hosley, Randle will play that role just fine -- much like the old No. 82.
"They are expecting big things and I got to live up to it," Randle said. "They brought me in for a reason."