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Giants WR Victor Cruz Halfway to the Standard
If finishing a season with 1,000 or more receiving yards is the National Football League's standard for a "great year" at the receiver position, New York Giants playmaker Victor Cruz(notes) is halfway home.
Cruz, over New York's first seven games of the 2011-12 campaign, has caught 28 passes for 497 yards—averaging 17.8 yards per catch—and four touchdowns. Through Week 8, Cruz, 24, ranks ninth in the NFC in receiving yards (three spots behind teammate Hakeem Nicks(notes)) and is in a nine-way tie for fourth place for TD catches (4). He also holds the No. 6 spot in the conference for longest TD reception (74 yards).
Barring injury, Cruz, placed on the injured reserve list after straining his hamstring three games into the 2010-11 season, should reach the 1,000-yard benchmark. On Sunday vs. the Miami Dolphins, he had seven catches for 99 yards—including a go-ahead, fourth-quarter TD from 25 yards out—in New York's 20-17 win.
Big Blue's placing in the standings, while not terribly shocking, comes as a surprise. New York lost key players on defense to injury (Terrell Thomas(notes), Prince Amukamara(notes), etc.) and on offense to free agency. Kevin Boss(notes) took the Oakland Raiders' money to be their tight end, and slot receiver Steve Smith ended up with Philadelphia.
But Cruz, like TE Jake Ballard(notes) (19 receptions, 328 yards, 2 TD) in lieu of Boss, has filled the void. Frankly, his production thus far has given Giants fans little reason to miss Smith (5 receptions, 63 yards), who has appeared in three games this year.
Cruz illustrated his potential, his explosiveness last year, famously catching three TDs against the New York Jets during a preseason game.
Last year also ended prematurely for the Paterson, N.J. native, but now he is healthy, on the field and producing results. Now, through eight weeks of this regular season, at least, he, like Nicks (38 receptions, 575 yards, 3 TD), is a top-10 receiver in the conference.
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