Victor Cruz could be called upon to play a very large role in the offense against the Eagles on Sunday. Good thing he has those two career receptions under his belt.
The second-year player made his first two catches against the Rams on Monday night, a week after dropping what would have been his first on a key third down against the Redskins.
“It felt good to get a couple of balls thrown your way and actually make a catch and make some plays,” he said with a little giggle about his past drop. “Obviously this week I hope I’ll be a lot more in the offense and have a lot more opportunities.”
One of the best things about Cruz’ first NFL catch – which came in the third quarter TD drive on a third-and-6 – was that it was on a sight adjustment and a hot read, an aspect of a wide receiver’s game that Cruz has struggled with early in his career and one which he called “an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10” in terms of difficulty for his position.
On that play, he was covered by Justin King in the slot. King and linebacker James Laurinaitis wound up blitzing Eli Manning and Cruz was adept enough to cut off his route and catch a quick 10-yard pass from Manning for the first down.
“Thank the heavenly father that I saw that and I made that adjustment and I made a catch out of that because I would have gotten yelled at,” Cruz said. “For sure. 100 percent fact.”
Instead, Eli Manning gave him a knowing nod and an encouraging finger point after the catch.
“That’s been one of the things I’ve been keying on,” Cruz said. “Understanding who Eli calls the mike, understanding the blitzes and understanding the teams and how they like to blitz. When I saw those two come off the strong side I knew that it was a sight adjustment and it just clicked. That felt good.”
Cruz said that hardest part of picking up on those blitzes and adjustments is the speed at which they occur.
“Literally on the snap of the ball you have to see those two guys coming and make your adjustment,” he said. “You have to read it and make your adjustment. Make sure in that split second you’re seeing how far off the defender is from you, so you’ll be able to catch the ball and make a move and make him miss … It’s tough, especially mid-route. Sometimes they might act like they’re going to blitz and come back out. It’s tough. But when you see it and you get it right, it’s probably the best thing you can do.”
And the best way to not get yelled at.