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Cruz concerned about safety with replacement officials on the field

Victor Cruz rushes upfield with a pass against

Victor Cruz rushes upfield with a pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars in a pre-season football game at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. (August 10, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

Tom Coughlin took the high road yesterday when talking about the replacement officials’ performance in Friday’s preseason game. “Let’s not get too technical here,” he said while praising their effort and turning a blind eye to the details of their calls (which is so very, very Coughlin).

But Coughlin just has to live with the possible bad calls, or, as he did at the end of the game Friday when the Giants got an extra snap, take advantage of them. Victor Cruz is actually out there playing and he’s concerned not only about the integrity of the games but his own well-being.

Cruz said he is worried about “being out there as a player and wanting to be protected as far as calls go and wanting to be protected as far as no calls go. It definitely goes both ways. We just want to make sure that they have the best interests of the players and the league at heart.”

Cruz more than most, since he has yet to see his big payday in the NFL. If he gets injured this season, it would certainly affect how much he gets when he becomes a restricted free agent next spring.

“They were just kind of just trying to make the best calls they could make,” Cruz said. “Sometimes you could see them being a little flustered at times. It’s just tricky. It’s obviously tough for them because they have to get adjusted on the fly to refereeing NFL games and it’s tough for them as well. It’s by far a tough job for them. But we just want to make sure that as players we’re protected as well.”

Cruz said he heard from one of the officials working Friday’s game in Jacksonville that his experience came from officiating “glorified high school games.”

“I don’t even know what that means essentially,” Cruz said.

Cruz said that the officials didn’t ask the players for help. He also noted that none of the officials asked him for an autograph. “Not yet at least,” he said.

Cruz said that he was most baffled by the holding call against Jayron Hosley who was flagged for the penalty while returning a punt. That was a silly mistake, not an egregious one like the two missed pass interference calls in the end zone on Jerrel Jernigan and Isaiah Stanback, or the final sequence where the Giants got the extra snap.

“I just want to make sure we’re getting the best guys out there to referee these games and making sure that they have the best interest of the players at heart and they know what they’re doing out there because there were a few instances where there were some iffy calls made,” Cruz said. “We just want to make sure we get the refs back out there and out there making the right calls.”

And when they do return? Cruz said he’ll have a new respect for them.

“I think that’s probably the first time that I’ll be happy to see a ref that I’ve seen last year,” Cruz said. “I’m going to shake his hand and say ‘Thank you for coming back, we appreciate it.’”

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