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Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Cruz/Ballard vs. Smith/Boss

By Mike Mazzeo

Eight weeks into the 2011 season, the statistics say Victor Cruz and Jake Ballard have far and away outperformed Steve Smith and Kevin Boss.

This wasn’t supposed to happen.

Smith and Boss were supposed to be putting up huge numbers in Philadelphia and Oakland, while Cruz and Ballard were supposed to getting situational snaps at best.

Just ask Jerry Reese. The Giants GM thought his team would be just fine without Smith and Boss. He just didn’t know Cruz and Ballard would be the ones replacing their production -- and then some.

Domenik Hixon had emerged as the team’s slot receiver. Then he got injured.

Travis Beckum was supposed to emerge as a pass-catching, play-making tight end/h-back. He hasn’t.

Asa result, Cruz and Ballard -- a pair of undrafted players -- were thrust into the fire. Their statistics tell the story.

Cruz has 28 catches for 497 yards and four touchdowns. He's also been involved in a number of controversial game-changing moments. Ballard has 19 catches for 328 yards and two touchdowns. And he's done so without any real blow-you-away talent.

Boss, who just suffered a concussion against Kansas City on Sunday that threatens to keep him out for a game or two, has eight catches for 160 yards and one touchdown. Smith, who might still not be 100 percent, is currently stuck behind DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant on the Eagles’ depth chart and has just eight catches for 63 yards and no touchdowns.

The season isn’t over yet. There are still nine weeks left.

Still, we’re left to wonder if Cruz and Ballard can keep it up and if Smith and Boss can become what they once were.

Nevertheless, the Giants look like big winners so far -- even if hasn't gone exactly the way they thought it would.