Randle hopes to answer critics on Sunday

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- The Giants' wide receivers unit has been hit hard by injuries.

Hakeem Nicks has missed two straight games and his status is uncertain for this Sunday.

Ramses Barden has been diagnosed with a concussion and could miss Sunday’s game, too.

That means Rueben Randle could have an opportunity to show what he can do.

If Nicks and Barden are unable to play, Randle could be the third receiver after Victor Cruz and Domenik Hixon.

The Giants, who also have Jerrel Jernigan at receiver, have not used Randle much so far this season. He played four offensive snaps on Sunday night against the Eagles but it was long enough for NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth to remark that Randle’s maturity has been an issue for the Giants.

“Randle’s work ethic has been questioned a bit with the Giants,” Collinsworth said. “They’re hoping that he grows up as he goes along and starts becoming a bit more of a pro.”

Randle, who has just one catch for six yards so far, wasn’t fazed by Collinsworth’s comment.

“You can’t really focus on the outside,” Randle said. “As long as you know what is going on the inside and how your teammates and coaching staff feels, everything on the outside, you just got to let it stay (outside).”

The Giants drafted Randle in the second round looking for somebody to replace Mario Manningham as the third receiver. Randle flashed his potential in training camp and the preseason but has had to bide his time behind Nicks, Cruz, Hixon and Barden.

“He’s young and he’s trying to figure out what it takes to compete and get mentally and physically ready for upcoming games,” Eli Manning said. “He has talent, he’s been working better, having an understanding of just how we work and how we prepare each week.

“He’s been getting more reps these last few weeks, so he’s doing a good job of putting everything together,” Manning continued. “He’s going to have to play for us whether it is this week or sometime, he’s going to have to make some plays for us, and I believe he can do that, he can help us out.”

The Giants coaching staff wants to see Randle play faster with more command of the playbook and recognition of what defenses are doing.

Randle understands this and says he has to prepare as much as he can.

“You know, as a rookie, you’re coming in, you’re going to struggle and things like that,” Randle said. “My job here is just continue to work hard and gain trust in my teammates and the coaching staff each and every week and just take advantage of the opportunities that they give me.”

Cruz says the work-ethic comment just bounced off of the rookie this week.

“I think he’s all right,” Cruz said when asked about if the comment bothered Randle. “I don’t even think he heard it, to be honest with you. He’s a kid that he doesn’t let anything really bother him.”

Randle said all the right things on Wednesday to reporters. But the rookie knows getting an opportunity and then doing something with it will be the biggest statement he can make.

“I think it is gaining each and every week,” Randle said of the trust Manning and the coaches have in him. “In practice, I am going out there and making plays on scout team. My job is to (gain) knowledge of the playbook and take advantage of my opportunities.”