EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Perhaps no other time of year offers as big of an opportunity for a young player to show the coaches he's ready for a larger role. And that's precisely what New York Giants second-year wide receiver Rueben Randle has done.
Randle received additional snaps in the OTAs and the recently concluded three-day mandatory minicamp, thanks to the absences of teammates Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said he really likes what he's seen from Randle this spring.
"You see a guy emerge who last year showed flashes and always caught the ball well," Gilbride said. "Maybe (he) didn't always run the routes as precisely, (or) as crisply as you want, or have quite the understanding you wanted -- now he looks like a guy who's been here five or six years."
One of the biggest things that has jumped out at Gilbride is Randle's willingness to assume a leadership position.
"His whole demeanor, his whole professionalism is outstanding," Gilbride said. "He's certainly stepped into a leadership role. Not only did he grow, he kind of became the (leader) of the receiving corps. He was first in line and did all those things. That wasn't what we saw last year, not by a long shot. So to see him grow like that was a great step for him."
The growth of Randle, who was the Giants' second round draft pick in 2012, is especially reassuring given the continued uncertainty surrounding Cruz's contract negotiations.
Regardless of what happens with Cruz, Gilbride said Randle has earned playing time.
"Oh he's going to play," Gilbride said. "He's going to play a lot. He'll play on first, second down, he'll be and outside receiver for us, and whether he's at the X or the Z, he's going to play. He's looking like he deserves to be out there with significant time."
Gilbride also didn't rule out having Randle line up in Cruz's slot position if Cruz's contract situation extends into the summer.
"Unless something disastrous happens, he's earned the right (to play)," Gilbride said. "He looks pretty good right now."