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Giants Q&A: Victor Cruz annoyed after not being targeted

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell is tackled

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell is tackled by New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and linebacker Jonathan Casillas, left, during the first half of an NFL game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Photo Credit: AP / Jared Wickerham

How did Victor Cruz handle the second game this season in which he did not have a catch?

His initial answer was “take a guess,” but eventually the receiver expressed his displeasure with the development.

“I have no idea. That’s not a question for me to answer,” he said when asked why he was not even targeted with a pass in Sunday’s 24-14 loss to the Steelers. “I’m gonna talk to somebody. Somebody’s gonna give me an answer as to why . . . as to why.”

Cruz said he had not spoken to Eli Manning or Ben McAdoo about the situation. He was held without a catch against the Packers in Week 5 but had two targets in that game.

It was the second consecutive week that one of the Giants’ starting receivers went the entire game without a target. After rookie Sterling Shepard suffered the same fate, he received an apology from Manning.

On behalf of Cruz: Why is that happening?

“We weren’t efficient,” McAdoo said. “We’ll go back and take a look at it.”

“I have total confidence in Victor,” Manning said. “Sometimes he might just be the second or third progression on some things and [I’m] not getting through everything.”

In other words, there is no answer.

He had only three catches in the previous three games. Is Cruz not playing well enough coming back from his injuries to warrant more chances? He does not believe so.

“There’s always opportunities for everybody to get the ball out there,” he said.

Just not this time, apparently.

Who won the receiver duel between Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown?

Brown made two dazzling catches, one in the back of the end zone and another near the sideline in which he tap-danced his toes inbounds. He had six catches for 54 yards. Beckham had better numbers — 10 catches, 100 yards — but lacked the touchdown and, of course, his team lost.

Why was Beckham caught smiling after Brown’s TD catch?

The two are close friends and mutual admirers and train together in the offseason.

“I didn’t admire the points going on the board, but I admire him,” Beckham said. “It’s a tough balance. I would have liked for him to score next week and not this week, but I mean, the guy is great. He’s one of the best in the league, day in and day out. He came in here and did his thing.”

Will there be backlash for that?

“You can’t really sit there and worry about what everybody else has to say about something, or somebody’s mad because I smiled when they scored,” Beckham said. “That doesn’t really cross my mind. The man’s like a brother to me . . . It’s not like I’m sitting there rooting for him against our team. ‘Oh man, tear it up!’ No, I don’t want us to lose. But at the end of the day, I love Antonio. I love the way he plays. I love everything about him.”

Are Beckham’s teammates bothered by it?

Apparently not. “We have friends across the league,” Rashad Jennings said. “I have some good friends over there.”

Jennings said he trains with Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons in the offseason and will give him a hard time about catching him to make the tackle on his interception return.

“We’re gonna laugh at that in the offseason,’’ Jennings said. “It’s good to have friends like that, but in between, we give it all we have and we never question [Beckham’s] work.”

What happened to Jason Pierre-Paul?

The defensive end left the game just before halftime with a groin injury that will be evaluated Monday. “It’s a pull,” he said. “Not too many details.”

So he won’t play against Dallas next week?

In typical JPP fashion, he did not rule himself out just yet. “It doesn’t concern me at all,” he said of the injury’s potential to sideline him for an extended period. “We’ll see. We’ll get it checked on Monday and we’ll see.’’

Any other injuries?

DB Coty Sensabaugh left the game with rib injuries. DTs Damon Harrison (leg) and Johnathan Hankins (thigh) left but returned. WR/KR Dwayne Harris left with an ankle injury.


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