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home : sports : regional February 26, 2015

NFL Roundup: Rueben Randle Ready For Bigger Role In Offense
New York Giants’ Rueben Randle makes a catch during a NFL football camp in East Rutherford, N.J., Tuesday.
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New York Giants’ Rueben Randle makes a catch during a NFL football camp in East Rutherford, N.J., Tuesday.


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants wide receiver Rueben Randle is taking advantage of his opportunities so far in training camp.

Judging by his confidence level and intensity at camp, he seems ready for the challenge and wants first chance at being the team's No. 2 receiver behind Pro Bowler Victor Cruz.

"I am more comfortable and more confident," Randle said before Friday's practice session.

"I think I still have to prove myself, but I can go out and make plays. I don't know if there's any pressure on me, but of course, that's what I want to do. I want to be on the field and make plays. I'm confident in my ability. It's as simple as that."

Randle had a breakout season in 2013, catching 41 passes for 611 yards and six touchdowns.

The former LSU standout, drafted by the Giants in the second round of the 2012 draft, had 19 receptions for 298 yards and three TDs as a rookie.

"I'm very excited to get more opportunities," said the 23-year-old Randle. "The new (West Coast) offense fits everybody well. We're all on the same page. I love it, because it puts me in the position to make plays."

Randle missed a day earlier in the week with a tight hamstring that he now says is fine.

He will play Sunday night in the preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.

First-round draft pick Odell Beckham, Jr., who was counted on to be a contributor right away, has been slowed by a hamstring injury that has kept him out of all spring activities and the early part of training camp.

Veteran Mario Manningham, signed as a free agent in the offseason, was brought back to where he began his career, but he has yet to recover from offseason knee surgery and has been seen minimally during the training camp thus far.

Randle was a mentor to Beckham when the two were at LSU, and now he's trying to do the same with the Giants.

"It's been frustrating for him, because I know he wants to be out there on the field," Randle said. "We talk all the time and I'm trying to help him with things outside of football. We're focusing on that. He'll be fine once he gets back onto the field."

Cruz believes that Randle can be the Giants' No. 2 receiving threat this season.

"He's showing he's ready to step it up this year," Cruz said of Randle. "He's made a point of emphasis to show us what he can do. He's asking and answering questions in our meeting room. He's going through things he never did before. He's more attentive. I think he can be a great player for us, as long as he's physically ready to go. I have confidence in him and I think he now has confidence in himself."

Cruz is excited to get a chance to face the Bills on Sunday.

"I've never been there, so I'm excited to go," Cruz said. "I want to see all the statues. I'm going to use that as motivation. I'm excited for Michael Strahan and Andre Reed (two of this year's Hall of Fame inductees). We're going to see how well we know the new offense. This puts us right to the test."

"We have the capability to do great things this season," Randle said. "I'm just doing what they ask me to do. But I'm very excited about getting more opportunities to catch the ball."

NOTES: Beckham did appear at practice, fielding punts in drills, but did no running. ... DE Robert Ayers, who left Thursday's practice with a sprained right ankle, did not practice Friday, which means his chances of playing Sunday are slim. ... OT Will Beatty, who left Thursday's practice with an undisclosed illness, returned Friday. ... The Giants signed free agent OT Adam Gress on Friday and placed OT Troy Kropog on the injured reserve list. The 6-foot-7, 300-pound Gress is a rookie free agent from Penn State, where he started 12 games last season. Kropog is a four-year veteran, who signed with the Giants in January. He sustained a foot injury in practice last week.

JETS: Stephen Hill has been booed, cursed at by fans and labeled a 'bust' by critics.

The New York Jets wide receiver has heard it all, and he's trying to ignore it. Heading into his third NFL season, the 2012 second-round pick knows he needs to prove the doubters wrong -- and show the Jets he can be the playmaker they drafted him to be.

Hill, who has dealt with injuries and inconsistent play, is in the competition to be a starter for the Jets and has had a pretty good camp. He caught a few touchdown passes in practice Friday and coach Rex Ryan says "it's coming" for Hill.

Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has even gone so far as to say Hill has been "outstanding" this summer.

RICE: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says his decision to suspend Ray Rice for only two games following a domestic violence arrest is consistent with the league's previous actions.

Goodell says the Baltimore Ravens' running back has taken responsibility, has no history of assault and is following a court order to enter a diversionary program.

Goodell spoke Friday in Canton, Ohio, leading to this weekend's Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It was his first opportunity to answer questions regarding Rice since the league disciplined him on July 24.

The length of the suspension has been criticized as too lenient. Goodell says he felt it was appropriate and calls it important that Rice has expressed regret and assumed responsibility.

GORDON: As his teammates sweated through another training camp practice, Josh Gordon was in a New York office building where his career -- and Cleveland's season -- were in jeopardy.

Gordon met Friday with NFL officials to appeal a possible indefinite suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Gordon's attorney, Maurice Suh, is expected to argue that Gordon tested positive for marijuana because of secondhand smoke, a defense they planned to enhance with witnesses.

Gordon has not been at training camp the past two days. Cleveland coach Mike Pettine said he didn't know if the Pro Bowler will be on the field for Saturday's scrimmage in Akron.

The Browns are eager to resolve the matter. Gordon is the team's top playmaker and led the league in yards receiving last season.

Commissioner Roger Goodell, speaking at the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, said a decision will be based on the information at the hearing.

"Josh is going through a process right now, and I'm not part of that process," Goodell said. "At some point in time I may have an opportunity to be involved, and when I am, I look forward to meeting him."

Gordon was suspended two games last season for a drug violation.

Separate from his appeal, Gordon could still face league discipline under the league's personal-conduct policy for his arrest last month on a DUI charge in Raleigh, North Carolina.

LYNCH: Marshawn Lynch was back on the Seattle Seahawks practice fields Friday morning.

He was once again just a spectator.

Lynch watched the Seahawks go through a one-hour, no-pads practice on Friday a day after showing up at the team's facility and ending his weeklong training camp holdout in the hopes of getting changes to his contract.

Seattle cut wide receiver Randall Carroll to clear a spot on the 90-man roster and accommodate Lynch's return.

"Our run game is predicated on Marshawn's run style and what he does," Seahawks running backs coach Sherman Smith said. "I'm just glad he's back."

VIKINGS STADIUM: The Minneapolis City Council is calling for bird-safe glass at the new Minnesota Vikings stadium.

The council on Friday unanimously approved a resolution urging stadium planners to outfit the $1 billion stadium with bird-safe glass.

The Star Tribune ( ) reports the measure is symbolic and has no binding power. But it adds more pressure to calls from bird advocates to modify the design of the glassy building.

The Audubon Society of Minnesota praised the resolution. The group is concerned that many birds will die from colliding with the large windows slated to be installed at the stadium.

The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority said last week it doesn't have the budget to include the $1.1 million needed for bird-safe glass. A Vikings spokesman didn't immediately return a call Friday.

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