New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks is currently in the final year of his contract. After being hampered by a knee injury in 2012, Nicks has to prove his worth if he wants a paycheck at the end of the year instead of a severance package.
In the offseason, the Giants paid Victor Cruz $46 million for six years after months of negotiations. Some people believe that New York is grooming second-year wide receiver Rueben Randle to replace Nicks at the end of the season. If that’s the case, Randle has to spend this season proving he can handle the load of a no. 1 wideout.
Through the first two weeks, Nicks has nine receptions on 16 targets. Randle has eight catches and has been targeted 15 times. Nicks has 197 receiving yards compared to Randle’s 115 yards. Both have yet to find the end zone. Randle was within inches of a touchdown on Sunday, but had the ball poked loose by a Denver defender.
The Manning-to-Randle connection is still very much a work in progress. The two connected for over 100 yards against the Dallas Cowboys, but hooked up just three times for 14 yards against the Broncos. Randle is going to have to show he can be more effective if the Giants plan on him being Nicks’ heir apparent. However, Randle needs to find a level of consistency and not just show sporadic flashes of his true potential.
The most troubling statistic comes in the turnover column. According to the ESPN Stats & Info Department, four of Manning’s seven interceptions have come on passes intended for Randle. Only one interception has come on a pass that was intended for Nicks, Cruz or tight end Brandon Myers.
New York visits the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. The Panthers have a depleted secondary and currently rank 22nd in opponents passing yards per game. With a running game that remains a question mark, the Giants are going to have to move the ball through the air. We’ll see whose stock rises and whose dips in Week 3.