After Victor Cruz dropped a third-and-eight pass from Eli Manning that would’ve given the Giants a first down on their opening drive, Manning sought out the second-year wide receiver on the sidelines.
“‘Hey, don’t worry about it,’” Manning told Cruz. “‘We’re going to have to come back to you. Good route, good recognition. Everything was good, just finish the play.’”
“He’ll be fine,” Manning continued. “He’s going to have to make some plays for us.”
Cruz will get an opportunity to redeem himself on Monday night.
“Every week as the gameplan goes in you always wanna take advantage of some of the opportunities you have,” Cruz said. “I’m definitely excited to get another shot at it this week.”
But does that drop still bother him?
“A little bit,” Cruz said. “You obviously think about it, but as you move forward you gotta have a short-term memory and get that out of your mind and just move forward. There’s gonna be a lot of plays that need to be made throughout the course of the season, so just take it one week at a time and when my opportunity comes just take advantage of it.”
Cruz went on to break down the drop further.
“I got anxious and I just tried to make a move before I actually caught the ball,” Cruz said. “I just turned my head for that quick second and it happened that fast that it slipped out of my hands.
“Especially on intermediate routes like that, as soon as you catch somebody is gonna be close to you, you gotta make a quick move and get as many yards up field as you can.”
So what did he learn?
“Catch it first. Always catch first and move later,” Cruz said.
Cruz was asked if he thinks his quarterback might lack confidence in him because of a drop like that.
“Not really, because Eli trusts us and he talks to us all the time, even in meeting rooms and stuff like that,” Cruz said. “As long as he’s going through coverages and he reads it out, he’s gonna throw us the ball. He has enough trust in us that he’s gonna expect us to make plays and throw it to us when we’re open.”
Said Manning of Cruz: “He’s a smart guy and he works hard. He is a playmaker once he gets the ball in his hands. Anytime playing in your first regular season game there is going to be some nerves and things going on. Get him settled down, get him a catch, get a first down, just get him in a little rhythm, get a little confidence going and he’ll be in good shape.”
The 24-year-old Cruz, who didn’t have any catches but did come up with tackle in punt coverage on special teams, was asked if he had any nerves playing in his first regular season game since injuring himself last October.
“Not really. I felt pretty natural out there,” Cruz said. “I felt like right after that drop I was on punt coverage and I was so upset about the drop that i felt like i had to make a play, and I came down and made that tackle, so it felt good. Those preseason games helped a lot as far as getting my comfort level up.”
Cruz has yet to have a catch in four career NFL games. So on Monday night against St. Louis, he’ll be looking for his first.