Eagles Wake-Up Call: Randle ‘A Pleasant Surprise’
After some early interest in experimenting with Jordan Matthews on the outside, Doug Pederson has since concluded that the 23-year-old is best suited for the slot. Assuming that opinion sticks, the first-year head coach will look elsewhere to fill the ‘X’ and ‘Z’ receiver posts. Who will be the primary outside guys to start?
“Yeah, you know, Rueben Randle has really made an impact this spring,” Pederson began. “Chris Givens is another one. Nelson Agholor, of course, is another one. Josh Huff is another guy that can work both inside and outside — probably another one that’s going to be inside.
“And these guys have really, especially Rueben, has been a pleasant surprise. He’s a guy that’s a big, tall, sort of a smooth receiver that understands what we’re asking him to do. He knows his role and you’ve got three or four or five guys out there right now that are competing for that spot.”
A couple things stick out in that response. First, sounds like Huff could be deployed mainly on the inside (where snaps would be hard to come by given the presence of Matthews); and second, that Pederson used that opportunity to heap praise on Randle.
The 6-2, 208-pound Randle posted 57 catches for 797 yards and eight touchdowns last season. The former second-round pick out of LSU was particularly effective downfield, finishing sixth out of 62 receivers in catch rate on deep balls (8-of-9 on catchable passes with 4 TDs) according to Pro Football Focus.
Still, the Giants opted not to bring him back and the Eagles were able to sign him to a one-year deal in free agency worth $1 million ($500,000 guaranteed) largely due to the concerns about his work ethic and effort that he just couldn’t shake in New York.
He was benched twice in three weeks in 2014, once for missing a team meeting. There were questions about his passion for the game.
Randle attributed his falling out with the Giants to being misunderstood — an issue that he wants to prevent this time around with the Eagles.
“I guess they didn’t like some things, or my demeanor or things like that,” he said. “I was just judged wrong, read wrong, now I’ve got to be better about it, learn from the mistakes in the past and try to move forward here.”
Asked to clarify what the Giants didn’t like about his demeanor, Randle explained that “it kind of felt like I was out of it sometimes. I mean, I’m just a laid back guy…it was just read wrong, just gotta move on from it.”
Randle returned to the field Tuesday after missing time following gall bladder surgery and practiced on a limited basis. He expects to be full-go for training camp. By the sounds of it, he’ll be in a good position to try and snag one of the outside posts as the competition gets into full swing this summer.
“It’s definitely a new opportunity for everyone,” he said. “Everything’s up for grabs right now. It’s up to us to go out there and prove ourselves…I’m excited to be a part of this. It’s a new path for me.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Some observations from the first day of minicamp, including how much Darren Sproles and Fletcher Cox participated.
“I was just happy he was back. I had a chance to visit with him yesterday and tell him how excited I was.” Doug Pederson on having Cox back, and his plan with all three QBs.
Meanwhile, Cox released a statement regarding his absence and his contract.
“For them, [Chip] Kelly’s ways might as well have been the norm. Pederson could be the outlier.” What They’re Saying.
Josh takes a look at how Pederson will use Jordan Matthews this season. Plus, could a change at center be on the horizon?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
After suffering season-ending injuries, Nolan Carroll and JaCorey Shepherd are looking to bounce back, writes Mike Sielski of the Inquirer.
It’s a prudent course of action, given that the Eagles’ entire group of cornerbacks qualifies as a significant question mark. [Jim] Schwartz‘s system calls on his cornerbacks to play a lot of one-on-one man coverage, and nothing is settled yet among Shepherd, Carroll, Eric Rowe, Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks. In the best-case scenario, both Carroll and Shepherd recover fully and fall back into their previous roles. Carroll would be a returning starter, and Shepherd would be the functional equivalent of the Eagles’ drafting a cornerback in this year’s draft, except that he would have had a year-long apprenticeship in the NFL.
“You use that time to learn how to learn,” Shepherd said. “That’s not something you can just come in and know how to do. It takes time. It’s a process to learn how to study, what to look for. Now that I am able to play, that’s one less thing I have to worry about.”
Jalen Mills is opening up some eyes during workouts, as Martin Frank from the News Journal reports.
Mills isn’t a typical seventh-round pick. He was a four-year starter at LSU, and was expected to get drafted a lot higher. But he was arrested for domestic assault in the summer of 2014 (the charges were dropped after he completed a diversion program) and he broke his ankle during preseason camp last summer and missed the first half of the season.
Mills was back with the second unit last week during OTAs, and he will likely be with the second unit again this week, and most likely when training camp starts July 28.
“He’s been impressive so far,” Schwartz said, then added a few more rejoinders. “But we haven’t really even started yet, to tell you the truth. He’s got a lot to learn, and his head’s probably swimming a little bit. But what he has shown is he’s a very good athlete. He can play the ball, and he’s comfortable being on an island. I think if you were check-marking things for corners, those would be three near, or at, the top.”
Minicamp rolls on. Pederson will address the media at noon before practice.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.