After quite some time now of OTAs, the Giants still have not seen Pro-Bowl receivers Victor Cruz or Hakeem Nicks. So far, all Eli Manning has been throwing to at training camp are Reuben Randle and Louis Murphy. Cruz’s absence is due to a lack of contract agreement with the Giants and Nicks’ refusal to practice is still unknown. However, this may be both a good and a bad thing for the Giants.
Last year, Eli targeted Cruz and Nicks more than any other receivers, tight ends, or tailbacks on the Giants. Without their presence in OTAs, this gives an opportunity for Manning to ‘spread the wealth’ and observe the talent of his other receivers. So far, it seems that Manning and newly acquired Louis Murphy have connected both off and on the field. But the most intriguing case of a receiver who is finally getting the chance to shine is Reuben Randle. Now entering his sophomore season, number 82 on the Giants showed glimpses of potential last year, including an 82 yard game against the Browns and a two touchdown performance against the Eagles. Just recently in OTAs, one could have seen Reuben Randle totally burn Prince Amukamara on a fly route and Manning connected with him for a long touchdown. If Randle can keep impressing during Cruz’s and Nicks’ pre-season hiatus, look for him to slowly emerge as a key asset to this offense, most likely coming out of the slot.
Victor Cruz and the Giants have still not agreed on a deal, and although it is likely that he will be back in time for the season it is still a tad unnerving for all Giants fans. As we’ve seen in the past, star players don’t necessarily make an effort to play unless they feel they are getting the money they deserve. For example, former Jets’ cornerback Darrelle Revis held out after one of his best seasons because he wanted a new contract. Because he missed all the offseason workouts, Revis did not perform exceptionally well that year and eventually got hurt in a game against the Patriots. If the Giants aren’t careful with Cruz, they may be dealing with the same fate.
As for Nicks, no one is really positive on the true motive for his absence at camp. One thing that is for sure, however, is that his refusal to attend OTAs is certainly annoying Tom Coughlin. Coughlin would like to have every person on the roster at OTAs, and to have one of the pivotal parts of their offense sit out OTAs is extremely bothersome. Although, perhaps Nicks has some merit to him holding out. In previous years, he has gotten hurt in OTAs that altered his efficiency in training camp and eventually led to a crucial injury in just the second week of the season.
Despite injury concerns or contract negotiations, everyone on the Giants would like to see their star receivers back on the field. Everyone, that is, except Reuben Randle, who is doing perfectly fine on his own without them.