New York Giants: 5 Things That Would Keep Them From The Playoffs

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No Salsa Dance

Oct 12, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz (80) with trainer Byron Hansen as he is carted off the field after an injury during the third quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants have a solid group of receivers in place for Manning to throw passes to. Second-year phenom Odell Beckham Jr. highlights the group, while Rueben Randle quietly had a career-season in 2014 despite his lack of touchdown receptions. They also added Dwayne Harris in free agency, have Preston Parker returning and have young projects in Corey Washington and Marcus Harris that had strong summers in 2014 and will be looking for an increased role this season.

But, the one player that could put this group over the top is Victor Cruz. Cruz suffered a gruesome injury last season in Week 6, tearing his patellar tendon and putting him on a long rehab path. That injury is one that could derail careers, but Cruz has reportedly done well in his rehab and is on path to return when the season begins.

But, what happens if Cruz doesn’t return in time, or is unable to reclaim anything near the form he had prior to the injury? While the Giants do have a solid core of receivers at their disposal, they become much easier to defend if Cruz isn’t in the lineup. While Beckham Jr. has quickly proven how dominant he can be, defense will undoubtedly be focused on him this season, so having Cruz around will take some pressure off of him.

Also, while Randle had a strong 2014, he has not shown that he can be a difference maker consistently, or a guy the defense has to pay extra attention to. Having Cruz will just boost the unit as a whole, and also keep the Giants from having to figure out another position. Cruz was one of the best slot receivers in the NFL prior to his injury, and replacing him again would not be easy.

While Parker performed admirably in replacing him last season, he is somewhat of an underwhelming option. D. Harris was never much of a receiver with the Dallas Cowboys, so expecting big things from him would be unfair. M. Harris was looked at as a slot receiver last season, but he will have to show that he also is recovered from an injury of his own and can perform as he was last summer. The Giants could also go with newly signed running back Shane Vereen in the slot, but he probably has enough on his plate learning a new offense out of the backfield to be tasked with playing slot receiver right from the start.

These are all things that could stall the Giants offense, as Cruz is essentially an irreplaceable talent for what he brings to the table. His recovery would add another dimension to the Giants offense that would make them truly explosive, while a prolonged rehab and recovery could leave the Giants in a bit of a pickle, as McAdoo wants to run three-receiver base sets. That will be difficult if Cruz is unable to play.

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