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Joining the champs: New Giants have extra challenge as rookies

Mel Evans/Associated Press
Second-round draft pick Rueben Randle of LSU will be competing to become the Giants' No. 3 wide receiver.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Meet Jayron Hosley, a cornerback and punt returner from Virginia Tech who knows exactly why the New York Giants used their third-round draft pick on him.

They saw, Hosley said, "my speed, instinct -- that I'm a playmaker."

Meet Adrien Robinson, a tight end and athletic freak who was used sparingly as a pass catcher at the University of Cincinnati, and a guy who is happy and grateful the Giants used their fourth-round pick on him. Robinson knew, even before the Giants' rookie minicamp concluded Sunday, that position coach Mike Pope holds the key to his future.

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"When he explains things, he dummies them down, so you understand," Robinson said, and then smiled. "That's really good for me."

Meet Markus Kuhn, a 26-year-old defensive lineman from North Carolina State who was the Giants' seventh-round pick. He joins New England Patriots offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer as the only natives of Germany ever selected in the NFL draft.

"I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to learn," Kuhn said, "(while being around) the best defensive line in the game."

The Giants' rookie minicamp probably wasn't much different from others around the league, with one distinct exception. As coach Tom Coughlin noted, the Giants' rookies and young tryout players are the only ones trying to improve a roster of reigning world champions.

"You can imagine what these young guys are going through the first time," Coughlin said.

There is one thing Giants rookies know, or should know: If deserving, they will have the opportunity to contribute. In 2007, Jerry Reese's first draft as Giants general manager, all eight draft picks played in a postseason that ended in a Super Bowl victory over the Patriots. Now the Giants are coming off their second Super Bowl victory in five years. And they could use some help from the kids again.

Coughlin, as is his wont, kept expectations exceedingly low, given the calendar and the experience level of his pupils. He noted the classroom work by the youngsters was "very, very simple, very fundamental." Coughlin noted the mistakes, however predictable, on the practice field: the inconsistency of quarterback-center exchanges, offensive procedure issues, miscues in defensive alignment.

But, by hanging a sign designed to get the players' attention, Coughlin made sure to emphasize opportunity. "You never get a second chance to make a first impression," it read.

In that regard, the Giants liked what they saw from their first two draft choices, Virginia Tech running back David Wilson and LSU wide receiver Rueben Randle. Coincidentally or not -- Reese maintains he stuck to his mantra of drafting the best player available -- Wilson and Randle could be replacements for Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham, who left for San Francisco in free agency.

As offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said, "We need to replenish the troops."

Wilson, who wowed with his quickness, will have to listen to Gilbride's insistence that he run "north-south" and will receive mentoring from veteran Ahmad Bradshaw, who enjoyed a close relationship with Jacobs.

"It finally set in that I'm really about to be part of this team," Wilson said. "They were the Super Bowl champions and the main goal, as Coach Coughlin said, is to get back to it again. (I want to) try to help get them back-to-back."

For Randle, his recent past has allowed for plenty of reflection. Picked 63rd overall, Randle endured an excruciating wait in the green room at Radio City Music Hall. He was the ninth receiver taken, the last of the 26 players invited to the draft to be selected and he was chosen with the final pick of the second round.

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The Giants considered Randle with their first pick and had a first-round grade on him. They expect him to compete behind starters Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. He got off to a solid start: Randle was the one player Coughlin singled out for praise after the initial rookie practice, saying he was "very impressed."

Randle, a big receiver with deceptive speed, has drawn comparisons to Nicks. He is wearing No. 82, Manningham's former number.

"In terms of going deep and going down the field, he looked pretty good," Gilbride said. "We saw what we needed from him, which is go get the ball."

Randle now describes his draft journey as "a blessing in disguise."

"It's a special situation to come to the Super Bowl champions and fill a void that they have," Randle said. "The role is there. It's up to me to prove I deserve it. That's why I'm not complaining about where I was drafted."

That's all history, anyway. For as much as any rookie in Giants camp, Rueben Randle's future is now.

Follow Kim Jones on Twitter @KimJonesSports

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