From Kyle McMorrow of NYGiantsRush:
The New York Giants opened voluntary OTA’s without the familiar faces of Hakeem Nicks or Victor Cruz. Neither have ideal contract situations, and both made their absences felt, at least initially.
The Giants headlines were mobbed with the Nicks/Cruz drama, but as the days went on, the news slowly shifted from those off the field, to the ones actually on it. Giants wide receiver Rueben Randle seemingly stole the show with his performance during the OTA’s, as Tom Coughlin and Kevin Gilbride constantly praised the second year man out of Louisiana State University.
After a rookie campaign that saw Randle catch 19 passes for 298 yards and three scores, a development was expected, but are the Giants intentionally driving up his value to spite Nicks and Cruz?
“His whole demeanor, his whole professionalism, was outstanding,” Gilbride said last week at Giants’ minicamp. “Now is that because they weren’t here or just because he had more reps? I don’t know but he certainly stepped into a leadership role. Not only did he grow he kind of became the bell cow of the receiving corps. He was first in line. He did all of those things. That was not what we saw last year; not by a longshot. So to see him growing like that was a great step forward for him, which will help us down the road.”
Serious high praise for a second year guy.
Gilbride added, “Oh, he is going to play – he is going to play a lot. He will play first and second-downs. He will be an outside receiver for us. Whether he is at the ‘X’ or the ‘Z,” he is going to play. He is looking like he deserves to be out there a significant time.”
What the Giants are doing makes sense on the most basic level, make the popular kids jealous with the new kid. Threaten their territory and make them react. Show them that everyone is replaceable, and drive up the value of the competition. If the Giants front office came out and pulled a Rex Ryan by criticizing their wide outs, Nicks and Cruz would control the situation. Both could easily sit back and let the pressure break the Giants, but now their future in a Giants uniform is seemingly in “jeopardy”, or at least that’s the perception.
The New York Giants Facebook page posted on Monday: “Giants.com debates if Cruz/Nicks/Randle is the best WR trio Eli Manning has ever had to throw to? What do you think?”
Seriously? We’re already debating Manning’s trio after a 19 catch year and and an impressive OTA showing?
The New York media scene can create a celebrity overnight, and expectations are already shooting towards the sky for the young wide receiver, and it’s only June.
The Giants aren’t new to this scenario, they’ve seen how this game goes after dealing with Osi Umenyiora.
With Nicks coming back from injury, the pressure is on him to prove to the league he’s worthy of a big pay day. As for Cruz, he’s already signed the one-year $2.879 million tender, so he’ll be in Dallas for the season opener. The Giants have almost an entire year to get a deal done and keep Cruz around, but could still franchise their star if no deal is reached.
So while it may seem like Big Blue is in big trouble, they’re actually in the drivers seat, and as for Randle, right now, it seems like just showing up has earned him as many headlines as his counterparts.