EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — When it comes to getting into the end zone, there is no one on the New York Giants better than Rueben Randle.
The second-year wide receiver has caught six touchdown passes in the last six games to take over the team lead. No other Giants receiver has caught a TD in that span.
Victor Cruz caught the last of his four touchdowns on Sept. 29, and Hakeem Nicks is still looking for his first of the season heading into the Giants’ must-win game against the Dallas Cowboys (5-5) on Sunday.
New York (4-6) will be looking for its fifth straight win, a feat that would tie it with Tennessee as the only teams in NFL history to lose their first six games and win the next five.
Randle’s role might even be more important this weekend because Nicks has been limited in practice by an abdominal injury that he says has bothered him all season. The fifth-year player who is in the final year of his contract insists he will play in the biggest game of the season.
“I am just going out there and playing fast,” Randle said Friday. “I am using my abilities and I am making plays.”
Randle got his last touchdown on Sunday on a 26-yard play over the middle on which he broke a tackle around the 10-yard line. Randle’s other touchdowns have covered 26, 6, 37, 24 and 5 yards. His totals for the season are 29 catches for 460 yards, a 15.9-yard average.
Cruz leads the team with 58 catches for 824 yards, a 14.2-yard average
Quarterback Eli Manning said he isn’t looking for Randle, although it’s easier to go to him with Cruz being guarded by two players most of the time. Lately, Manning is getting back on track.
“It depends on what the defenses are doing,” Manning said Friday after holding his weekly meeting with his receivers. “I think he has made some plays. They all haven’t been (in) the red zone. I’m trying to think of them all. I hit him on a fade. Last week was an in-breaking route. He has just made some big plays and it’s been against all different coverages, all different things. He has done a good job getting open.”
Randle’s performance this season might not be so good for Nicks in his walk year. He has proven he can play while Nicks has struggled at time despite making 42 catches for 620 yards, a 14.8-yard average.
Coach Tom Coughlin said Randle is making the most of his chances.
“By design, there are opportunities according to coverage where that particular player from that position becomes the feature on that play, and he’s done a good job with it,” Coughlin said. “He’s responded. He’s looked good in practice and he’s had those opportunities. We’ve seen him go up high and get them, and we’ve seen him catch them over his shoulder, so we’ve seen him make a lot of plays. Last week was an excellent adjustment and he and Eli were on the same page.”
Cornerback Prince Amukamara isn’t surprised with Randle’s play. He got to go against him in training camp and said he is rising on the receiver scene. Randle is making plays outside the 20 and he has all the attributes that make a good receiver in the red zone.
“You need great hands. It’s all about catching the ball in the red zone, because all you need is a couple of yards,” Amukamara said. “You don’t need to be fast. All you have to do is catch the ball. I say a tough red-zone guy would be one that plays the jump ball well like a Dez Bryant, or a Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Hakeem. All you have to do is establish position and catch the ball and it’s a touchdown.”
When Randle’s name was mentioned Amukamara quickly nodded his head in agreement.
“He’s been so productive for us and he can definitely play the ball,” Amukamara said.
NOTES: CB Corey Webster has been ruled out for Sunday’s game with groin and ankle injuries. Nicks and RB Brandon Jacobs (knee) are questionable. DE Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder), FB John Conner (hip) and CB Terrell Thomas (knee) and CB Trumaine McBride (hip) are probable. … Thomas gave the Cowboys some bulletin board material Friday, guaranteeing a win on a SiriusXM NFL Radio interview. “We’re gonna win this game. You can tell ’em, put it on the bulletin board, it doesn’t matter because we have to win this game. Our season is on the line right now,” Thomas said.
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