Giants prepare for preseason game vs Colts

Last year, Rueben Randle was a second-round draft pick for the

New York Giants, Stevie Brown was an unproven free agent safety and

Michael Cox was a graduate student in training camp at the

University of Massachusetts.

Now Randle has more of a defined role with the Giants receiving

corps, capitalizing on the off-season experience he gained during

the absence of starters Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz.

Brown, previously cut by two different NFL teams, is the strong

safety after collecting a team-high eight interceptions.

Cox, the seventh-round draft pick, was the Giants’ leading

rusher in the preseason opener last Saturday against

Pittsburgh.

The Giants are preparing for their second preseason game against

Indianapolis on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium. All three realize

that they have a chance to contribute against the Colts and during

the season.

”I know I definitely don’t want to take a step back,” said

Randle, who was a standout at LSU before joining the Giants last

year. ”I want to keep moving forward. I want to become more of a

play maker.”

Randle caught 19 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns last

season, starting one game and seeing action in all 16 contests. He

said that he worked hard in the offseason, just in case Nicks or

Cruz would not be ready. Even with both of the Giants’ top

receivers in camp, Randle is still doing his due diligence.

”I feel like I’m a better receiver now,” Randle said. ”I did

a lot of work on my strength and conditioning.”

Randle said that he feels so strong that he’s willing to take on

another role with the team.

”I’m ready to return punts if needed,” Randle said. ”I’m

willing to do anything.”

Brown was a nondescript player for both Oakland and Indianapolis

in his first two NFL seasons, but flourished last year after

injuries catapulted him into a starting position a month into the

season. Brown, a product of Michigan, ended up with eight

interceptions, second-best in the entire league, earning a new

contract with the Giants. Brown could have been a restricted free

agent.

With Antrelle Rolle unavailable with an ankle sprain, Brown has

become the leader of the secondary. It’s a complete turnaround from

last training camp, when he was practically unknown.

”It’s definitely different,” Brown said. ”I didn’t have to do

any interviews with this many people last year. I just got to eat

lunch and go back inside. But it’s definitely a little bit

different. Coaches talk to you in a different way. Players talk to

you in a different way.

”I’m trying to be a little more vocal. It’s not about seeing if

I can just make the team. It’s now about this team needing things

from you and expecting things from you.”

Brown was asked if he was expected to repeat last year’s

breakout performance.

”There are always going to be questions,” Brown said. ”Until

you become established and do it year-in and year-out, you’re

always going to have questions. People wonder if you’re just a

one-year guy. I believe that I still have to go out there and prove

myself.”

Brown said that he misses having Rolle alongside of him in the

secondary.

”It’s really crazy,” Brown said. ”Trell is not someone to

miss practice, miss games or anything, so to not see him out there

for two days in a row is definitely different. He hates it. He

wants to play and practice. That’s just the way he is. He wants to

do everything. I told him, `Dude, it’s preseason. Relax.’ But he’ll

be here soon enough.”

Cox spent four years at Michigan (Brown’s alma mater), before

transferring to UMass for his final year of eligibility. Cox was a

redshirt freshman at Michigan in 2008 and was granted another year

by the NCAA after getting his degree. He had only 19 carries in

three seasons at Michigan, but rushed 198 times for 715 yards and

five TDs last fall for the Minutemen in their first year as an NCAA

Division I program.

Cox had nine carries for 33 yards last Saturday against the

Steelers with a long run of 12 yards.

”I guess I still have something to prove,” Cox said. ”I

really hadn’t thought about it much. I knew that if I got my

chance, I’d manage to figure it out. That’s how I feel now. I’m

going out there and do everything I can to show my skills and make

this team. Hopefully, the coaches saw something and I’ll be out

there again. I now have one game of experience. I do feel a little

more confident, but it’s only one game.”

The Giants struggled with their rushing attack against the

Steelers, gaining just 84 yards on 33 carries. Second-year

speedster David Wilson, expected to be the starter now that Ahmad

Bradshaw is gone (and will be active for the Colts against his

former team this weekend), had just 16 yards on five carries.

Andre Brown, another veteran, had 23 yards in four attempts, but

had a costly fumble. Third-year pro Da’Rel Scott had 12 yards on 10

attempts, leaving the door wide open for someone like Cox.

Giants running back coach Jerald Ingram didn’t think it was a

major cause for concern.

”I think we’ve got a good group,” Ingram said. ”Competition

is the best thing. We’re pretty excited about what we have at that

position. We’ve had success in the past and that’s where we’re

trying to keep a balance here. I think they’re all excited about

having the opportunity.”

Ingram likes what he’s seen so far from the 6-foot-1, 222-pound

Cox.

”He’s a very talented young man,” Ingram said. ”He has the

ability to do certain things. Like all young running backs, he has

to learn the system. We went through that with David (Wilson) last

year in the same situation. Michael has to feel comfortable with

learning our offense. And we have to feel comfortable with him that

we can trust him in most situations. But he does show us a lot of

good talent.”

Cox hopes to show more of that talent on Sunday night.

NOTES: Terrell Thomas made another step in his remarkable

recovery. After suffering two ACL tears, Thomas was getting looks

with the starters at cornerback alongside Prince Amukamara . Dan

Connor was with the first unit at middle linebacker, the first sign

that Connor may have the upper hand over Mark Herzlich for the

starting nod there .TE Larry Donnell made a catch, then went down,

clutching his left knee. His status was unknown . Former Giants RB

Brandon Jacobs, now an unrestricted free agent, was on hand

watching practice. Jacobs, who still ranks fourth on the Giants’

all-time rushing list with 4,849 yards from 2005 through 2011,

scoring 56 touchdowns, played sparingly last year for San Francisco

and was released before the end of the season.