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Victor Cruz Ready To Play

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Victor Cruz Ready To Play

Post  Big_Pete on Wed May 11, 2011 6:35 am

Cruz maximizing time with Manning

WR Victor Cruz is taking advantage of the Hoboken, N.J., workouts to prove himself

Youngmisuk By Ohm Youngmisuk
ESPNNewYork.com


HOBOKEN, N.J. -- David Diehl ran a few short patterns across the field and deftly caught passes from Eli Manning and Sage Rosenfels.

In the opening practice of the second week of Manning's lockout passing academy at Hoboken High School in Hoboken, N.J., the New York Giants found a way to work an offensive lineman into a few passing drills.

"I tell you what, Diehl has some pretty smooth hands," Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz said. "For a big guy, he has some smooth hands and feet."

While Diehl has been working on his hands for fun and conditioning, Cruz has been getting invaluable reps with Manning since last week. The second-year receiver gets to run more routes, catch more balls and develop a rapport with Manning more than he would during a normal minicamp or even training camp situation.

Cruz was one of nine Giants to practice with Manning at Hoboken High School, the Giants' new makeshift home away from home.

Tight end Kevin Boss and wide receivers Michael Clayton, Samuel Giguere, Duke Calhoun and Darius Reynaud also participated in Manning's organized workout.

Working within an intimate group allows receivers such as Clayton, Cruz, Giguere, Calhoun and Reynaud extra reps that they would likely never see with Manning unless there were injuries to regulars, such as Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham.

"I think we are getting more accomplished because in practice you got the special-teams stuff and the small stuff and sometimes you are not getting the amount of reps because sometimes guys are in and guys are out," the 6-foot-1 Cruz said. "Being out here with him, he understands the game so well, he has been doing this, he's a Super Bowl champion.

"Just to get some tutelage from him -- where to be on certain routes, where he is looking to throw you the ball on certain routes, the certain depth you should be at -- it is amazing."

Cruz became an overnight fan favorite when he made his pro debut with six receptions for 145 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-16 preseason-opening victory over the Jets last August.

The undrafted free agent out of UMass finished the preseason with 15 catches for 297 yards and four touchdowns and made the final roster. However, his rookie season consisted of just three regular-season games of special-teams duty because of a hamstring injury that landed him on injured reserve prior to the sixth game of the season.

The Giants could have used Cruz later in the season, when Smith and Nicks suffered injuries that kept them out of games.

Cruz said he was fully recovered late in the season, and now he is trying to catch up on all that he missed by using this lockout time to work with Manning and Rosenfels.

"Being out of pads for that long [last year], it was kind of weird trying to get my mojo back," Cruz said. "I feel good now and that is the most important thing."

The Giants receiving corps is pretty crowded at the moment. They have Nicks, Smith and Manningham as the top-three receivers, provided the Giants re-sign Smith as expected. There's also Ramses Barden, Domenik Hixon and Devin Thomas. And the Giants drafted Troy wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan in the third round. Jernigan can play the slot and is expected to contribute on special teams, too.

Cruz very well could be fighting for a roster spot again as he did last year as an undrafted rookie. But there is opportunity, with Smith, Hixon and Barden rebounding from surgeries, and Cruz has displayed intriguing potential. Just ask Rex Ryan.

"I feel like nothing is guaranteed so you kind of go in and treat everything like it is my first time," Cruz said. "I will treat [this year's camp] like it is my first training camp. As long as I can keep myself healthy and be ready to perform, I think I will be fine."

The more work Cruz gets in with Manning now will help him in the long run. That is also why Clayton has been coming to New Jersey from Tampa for the workouts.

Not only does he want to be physically ready in hopes of earning a spot with the Giants but Clayton knows these workouts will help the Giants.

"A lot of us come from out of town to work with Eli because it means that much to have that chemistry," said Clayton, who is a free agent. "A lot of guys are being lazy and sitting around and not doing anything, so why not take advantage of the time to get a jump on the other teams that are out there."

After pretty much missing almost his entire rookie season, Cruz is ready to prove himself all over again. And even during the lockout, he's got a head start by working with Manning.

"To be out here and be getting those heavy reps and stuff like that, having those kind of small groups and running routes, is definitely huge," said Cruz, who lives minutes away from Hoboken in nearby Lyndhurst, N.J. "I will be here every day. I live here, I am not going on vacation."
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Re: Victor Cruz Ready To Play

Post  Big_Pete on Wed May 11, 2011 6:39 am

It is great to see Manning working with those 2nd tier receivers who are really on the cusp of a roster spot.

I would like to see guys like Barden there though, although I am not sure if he is 100% healthy yet; he can't work with the Giants medical staff, so erring on the side of caution is probably wise.

You really have to like Cruz's attitude and work ethic. I hope he sticks on the roster.

Interesting that Mike Clayton is there, it could ne a long shot, but maybe extra time with Eli would help. Ideally guys like Devin Thomas and Travis Beckum should be there imho.
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Re: Victor Cruz Ready To Play

Post  56 Crazed Dogs on Wed May 11, 2011 8:30 am

yeah, it's good to see all them receivers there.
In the end, the giants will have to cut a couple guys that they probably won't want to.
I think we have a real good group of guys this season. Hopefully Smith can get back to full health soon.
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Re: Victor Cruz Ready To Play

Post  Big_Pete on Wed May 11, 2011 5:51 pm

Even if Steve Smith isn't healthy by the start of the season and starts on PUP

our WR group is likely to be
Nicks, Manningham, Barden, Jernigan

with Cruz, Clayton, Calhoun, Thomas, Hixon, Reynaud etc competing for probably 2 spots

I don't think Hagan is back

That is still a very decent WR group, particularly as they are all still quite young and getting better.


Last edited by Big_Pete on Wed May 11, 2011 6:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Victor Cruz Ready To Play

Post  56 Crazed Dogs on Wed May 11, 2011 5:58 pm

I'm not sure what to think about Hixon since the Giants signed him just before the lock-out.

Eli has made mention last year that he wanted Hagan to stay and then he got cut anyways.
I don't think Hagan has been working out at Eli's little mini camp so maybe that's a sign.
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Re: Victor Cruz Ready To Play

Post  Big_Pete on Wed May 11, 2011 6:02 pm

56 Crazed Dogs wrote:I'm not sure what to think about Hixon since the Giants signed him just before the lock-out.

Eli has made mention last year that he wanted Hagan to stay and then he got cut anyways.
I don't think Hagan has been working out at Eli's little mini camp so maybe that's a sign.

I forgot Hixon was resigned, thats good to see, he will be in the mix as well.
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Re: Victor Cruz Ready To Play

Post  56 Crazed Dogs on Wed May 11, 2011 6:05 pm

yeah, I think Hixon and rb, Danny Ware were the only 2 signed before the lockout.
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Re: Victor Cruz Ready To Play

Post  Pizan on Wed May 11, 2011 7:36 pm

Our Current WRs

Nicks
Smith
Manningham
Barden
Cruz
J.J.
Hixon
Hagan
Clayton
Calhoun
Thomas


Thats a very good group. The players that dont make it could make other NFL rosters. Calhoun, Thomas, Clayton, Hagan all seem like the long shots IMO. I wouldn't be surprised if we get offered a trade for one of them.
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