RUEBEN RANDLE thought it might be a virus, but when his side kept hurting for three days, Randle decided it was time to talk to the Eagles' training staff.
"It was pretty painful . . . I finally decided to see what was going on and get it taken care of," Randle said Tuesday, as he rejoined the Eagles for minicamp, on a limited basis.
Tuesday was 15 days after the ultrasound test that led to Randle being admitted to a hospital for the first time in his life, and emerging minus one inflamed gallbladder.
Randle, 25, said he is "pretty sure" he'll be full-go for training camp at the end of July.
"This was kind of nerve-wracking," Randle said. "Luckily, it happened right now, instead of in the season . . . I'm just happy to be back."
Randle said he can do everything he needs to do on the field this week, the team working without pads, but he needs to regain conditioning lost during recovery.
Before he was so rudely interrupted, Randle seemed to be making a case for himself as a starting wide receiver, for a team that lacks deep-threat star power at that position.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson said earlier in the spring that he wanted to look at Jordan Matthews outside, instead of playing him in the slot, as Chip Kelly did the past two seasons. Last week, Pederson indicated Matthews would stay in the slot. When Pederson was asked about that Tuesday, he brought up Randle.
"Yeah, you know, Rueben Randle has really made an impact this spring. Chris Givens is another one. Nelson Agholor, of course, is another one," Pederson said, listing outside wideout contenders. He said Josh Huff is "probably another one that's going to be inside."
Pederson added that Randle "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."
Randle, 6-2, 208, was a second-round pick of the Giants in 2012 from LSU who never quite became what the team envisioned. Though he caught 71 passes for 938 yards in 2014, the Giants opted not to sign him this offseason when his rookie contract ran out. He ended up with the Eagles on a one-year deal that he hopes will lead to free-agency riches next offseason.
"Unfortunate situation. Things happen, you've got to move on," Randle said Tuesday, when asked why he didn't stick in New York. "Miscommunication . . . They didn't like my demeanor and some things . . . I was just judged wrong, read wrong. I gotta do better by that, learn from my mistakes . . . try to move forward here."
Randle was benched twice in 2014 for being late to meetings. NJ.com observed that Randle had 127 targets that season, and among receivers with at least 125 targets, he compiled the fewest yards.
Last season, with defenses focusing on Odell Beckham Jr., and Victor Cruz not ready to return from a career-threatening 2014 knee injury, the stage seemed set for Randle to become a star. He did score eight touchdowns, but they were tallied on only 57 catches, for 797 yards. Randle was targeted 90 times. At least twice, Eli Manning threw interceptions when Randle seemed to break off routes, rather than completing them. Randle seemed to chafe at the offense's focus on Beckham.
"It kind of (seemed) like I was out of it, at some times. I'm just a laid-back guy. It doesn't mean that I'm out of it, or things like that. I wasn't really trying to do anything (insubordinate). I just gotta move on from it," Randle said, when asked what the Giants didn't like about his demeanor.
"I'm excited to be a part of this," Randle said. "This is a new path for me."
He said life without a gallbladder shouldn't be that challenging.
"Just gotta watch what you eat," he said. "You don't really need it. But just gotta eat a little bit healthier."
Doug Pederson said Jordan Hicks is cleared to practice, but the quadriceps problem he has dealt with this spring is "not 100 percent" and the Eagles would monitor his workload in these final sessions before training camp.
Hicks downplayed the injury, but it might be worth noting that an extensive injury history at Texas knocked Hicks down to the third round in the 2015 draft, then he missed the second half of his rookie season with a torn pectoral tendon.
Hicks will be the middle linebacker in the 4-3; though Fletcher Cox is the Eagles' most dominant defensive player, Hicks seemed to be the guy who made the defense work last season. His health is a pretty big deal, even in June.
"It's nothing serious, man," said Hicks, who said he wasn't able to fully condition during his recovery from the pec injury, which help lead to the muscle pull. "I've gone through so much worse."
Keeping up with QBs
Sam Bradford seemed really sharp and in command throughout Tuesday's two-hour practice. Carson Wentz seemed up-and-down until his final set of full-team reps, when he was outstanding.
We noted previously that even on days when Wentz makes mistakes, he always does at least one thing that makes you realize what he can be. Tuesday, it was in that final series. Wentz deftly plucked a shotgun snap off his shoetops, set his feet, found rookie wideout Paul Turner over the middle and lasered a perfect pass into coverage, which Turner caught.
Doug Pederson said he would continue to give his backups, Wentz and Chase Daniel, extra reps when camp begins, until the third preseason game, when teams generally start getting the starters ready for the season. Pederson said this would be the case for all the second- and third-team players, not only the QBs, so he could get a better feel for what he has.