The former second-round pick out of LSU had a fairly productive four years with the New York Giants, including a 71-catch (albeit on 127 targets), 938-yard campaign in 2014 before posting a career-high eight touchdowns this past season. Still, he found the free-agent market to be less than bountiful, due in part to concerns about consistency and in some circles, work ethic.
“I understand that. But I feel like I get read wrong because I do a lot of things naturally and it doesn’t seem like I’m giving much effort," he said. "If I go out there and make a one-handed catch and make it look effortless, I get praised for it, but if I do all these other things effortlessly, it’s like I’m not giving much effort. It’s just kind of one of those things, you just have to go out there and just make some plays and see how it goes from there."
That could help explain part of it. And it's also possible that his laid-back personality makes him come across as aloof or disinterested in some people's eyes. But there have been too many rumblings over the years to think all of the questions about how he approaches his craft are tied solely to misinterpretations. He was benched for parts of two games in 2014 for being late to team meetings, and there were reported coaching staff frustrations over "struggles to consistently remember and execute his assignments."
Still just 25, there's plenty of room left for growth in the maturity department, and it's entirely possible that he's done a bit of soul-searching since leaving New York and signing a one-year deal worth just over $1 million with the Eagles.
Roughly five months into his stint in Philadelphia, Randle says he has Doug Pederson's offense "pretty much down pat." Asked if there is a different perception of him inside the Eagles' building as opposed to the Giants', he responded, "I would hope so. I mean, I'm just trying to go out here and make some plays for the team. I just want to leave all the negative stuff in the past and help the team win as much as possible."
Pederson called Randle "a pleasant surprise" back in June. This week he referred to him as "kind of the veteran, the savvy guy, the smooth, more of the silky runner" and named him among the "veteran guys that lead that young receiver group."
Randle has had a quiet preseason to date (3 catches, 13 yards) after a relatively strong start to training camp, however, and hasn't done enough to totally ease the front office's concerns over the state of the receiving corps, as evidenced by the recent trade for Dorial Green-Beckham. After Jordan Matthews, there's a group that includes Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff, Chris Givens, Paul Turner, Green-Beckham and Randle vying for playing time and roster spots. For Randle to emerge from that pack, he'll have to show that his experiences in New York shaped him for the better.
"Do I feel confident? Yeah, why would I not?" he responded when asked if he felt good about his chances of landing a place on the team. "If I didn't, I shouldn't be here. We all should feel confident in where we are, we just have to go out and prove ourselves."