New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz poses for a...

New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz poses for a fan after catching a pass while warming up before a game against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium. (Jan. 1, 2012) Credit: AP

Victor Cruz knows that Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson has a reputation as a headhunter -- especially against NFC East receivers -- but he's not going to let that stop him from playing his game.

"We're aware of it," Cruz told Newsday Wednesday. "There's really no concern. We just have to go play our game. It's football. Hits are going to happen. You have to make sure you don't get in position to get hit."

Robinson was fined $50,000 last season -- a penalty that was reduced to $25,000 -- for a helmet-to-helmet hit on DeSean Jackson. Earlier this season he was flagged for another helmet-to-helmet hit against the Eagles, this time drilling Jeremy Maclin. The result was a letter from Merton Hanks, the league's vice president of football operations, which said: "Future offenses will result in an escalation of fines up to and including suspension."

"This is a physical football game," Robinson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution at the time. "That's the way I play. If I don't play that way, I wouldn't make it in this league . . . I'm not a dirty player. I don't go out there and hit players illegally."

Ballard progressing

Tight end Jake Ballard was limited in Wednesday's practice, but it was the first time he's been on the field since he sprained the PCL in his right knee two weeks ago. "I'm doing better," he said. "[Thursday] will be my main day, I'll be getting more reps, cutting more and getting up to full speed. I'm still kind of day-to-day but I'm very optimistic for the game this week."

Ballard said he's not in much pain from the injury but has to be careful because it leaves the knee unstable. He practiced with a heavy brace and said he doesn't believe he'll be in any danger if he does play.

"As long as I'm not getting any direct hits in my knee and ACL, we should be all right," he said.

Giant steps

Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell is under contract through the 2012 season. Fewell originally signed a two-year deal when he was hired, but last winter, after interviewing for several head coaching jobs, he signed an extension for another year, his agent said. If Fewell does not land a head coaching job this offseason, he's expected back with the Giants next season...Osi Umenyiora (ankle) was limited in practice but is expected to play Sunday...LB Mark Herzlich (ankle) did not practice but said he is making progress...Falcons wide receivers Roddy White (hip) and Julio Jones (thumb) were both limited in practice.

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