Victor Cruz is learning that being a captain requires more than having a "C" sewn on your jersey and calling heads or tails. It means knowing when to say something and, more importantly, knowing when not to.
"It takes a lot of resiliency and a lot of strength emotionally to withhold some of the things you feel and some of the things you want to feel to be able to translate to your team in private as opposed to out loud where people can see and make judgments on them," Cruz said Wednesday. "[You] have to talk to your team in private, which is what I have to learn to do."
That sounds like the kind of advice someone like Tom Coughlin might give a player who, for the first time in his career, finds himself in a leadership role. With Cruz's observation coming shortly after he met with Coughlin to discuss a wide manner of topics, it's a good bet that was the genesis. But Cruz also is learning first-hand that his voice carries much further now that he speaks through a captain's megaphone.
"It's something new for me," he said. "I have to be able to understand what comes with that role and understand what things are [expected] of me to do. Some of it comes naturally and some of it I have to force within myself."
There was his assertion after the opening loss that he and Rueben Randle should be more involved in the offense, a point few could argue. That was spun in some places into a Keyshawn Johnson-type demand for more of a spotlight.
"You guys just did a good job of transferring my words over to saying that I wanted the damn ball and things like that," Cruz said gruffly to the media Wednesday. "That's all that was."
Does he regret saying those things?
Then, after Sunday's Week 2 loss to the Cardinals in which he dropped two fourth-quarter passes and could have caught a third, the fans turned on him with boos. Cruz, who had soaked up their adoration for most of his previous four seasons, said "I [couldn't] care less" about the reaction.
Is this headed toward the kind of captaincy that Santonio Holmes once had with the Jets? The kind that steers the ship into the reef rather than guides it through rough waters?
Coughlin, who interpreted Cruz's plea for more passes as a desire to win not a desire to whine, doesn't think so.
"He's a positive young man," he said.
Despite the perils in the first two weeks of his term, Cruz said he has enjoyed the job that he lobbied for and won by a vote of his teammates.
"I love it because I get to talk to my teammates from a different sphere, a different angle and they respect me for that," he said. "I can tell they respond to it and they don't just look at me like I have six heads."
Ultimately, Cruz knows that the best way to be a leader on this team is to make plays.
"I just have to go out there and catch the football," he said. "That is my job. That is what is [expected] of me, and to lead this team and to lead the receiving corps while I'm out there."
"Victor's a captain now," Coughlin said. "It's not just his [wide receiver] group, but I believe his group can and should play better and continue to help us . . .
"We're not exactly scoring any points, we need people to be in that position, and he agreed with me and he's working towards doing something about that."
The captain, it seems, has his orders from the general.