PHILADELPHIA -- It would be a mistake to write off Rueben Randle. The former New York Giants second-round pick just turned 25 last month. Very few healthy players are washed up at 25, even in the unforgiving NFL.
But the Giants were done with Randle. They let him leave as a free agent after four frustrating, up-and-down seasons, and he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, who opened their mandatory minicamp here Tuesday. Randle, who had missed a chunk of the offseason program after having his gallbladder removed, is making a strong impression.
"Rueben has been a pleasant surprise," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. "He's a guy that's a big, tall, smooth receiver that understands what we're asking him to do. He knows his role."
That's the impression Randle struggled to create with Giants coaches, with whom he often clashed during his time in New York. Randle was benched for parts of two games in 2014 for being late to meetings, and the coaches grew frustrated with his laid-back demeanor and his struggles to consistently remember and execute his assignments. There were moments, and whole games, where he was brilliant. And there were long stretches where he disappeared from the offense.
"There was some miscommunication going on," Randle said Tuesday. "I guess they didn't like some things about my demeanor and things like that. I was judged wrong and read wrong, and I've got to be better about that. I've got to learn from my mistakes in the past and try to move forward here."
Randle never struck me as a lazy player, but he definitely has a laconic personality and doesn't play or interact with people with the same kind of energy that more successful ex-teammates such as Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz exude. He believes that's one of the key lessons he has to learn from his time with the Giants.
"I'm not going to change my personality or who I am," Randle said. "But just little things like body language, facial expressions, make sure they know I'm excited to be here."
That would help, sure. But to be fair to the Giants, not all of Randle's issues were body language-related. There were too many times in games when he ran the wrong route or he and Eli Manning weren't on the same page and the result was a critical interception or incomplete pass.
Randle has a great opportunity with the Eagles. Their best receiver, Jordan Matthews, plays in the slot and they're basically holding an open competition for the two outside receiver spots. But in order to succeed in Philadelphia, he has to do a better job than he did in New York of consistently remembering and executing his assignments on Sundays. Randle always looked great this time of year with the Giants, but he never carried his offseason work into the season with the kind of consistency they needed from him.
"Different path, new opportunity for me, and I just have to learn from the past," Randle said. "I think I can do it all."