Eli Manning was quoted speaking to Newsday about the status of Victor Cruz’s contract hold-out with the New York Giants yesterday at a charity event in Westchester saying, “We get into some real practices next week so hopefully as we get into those live going-against-the-defense practices he’ll get back in so we can get back to work.”
Manning was referring to next week Organized Team Activities or OTAs, which Big Blue will be conducting at their new training facility in East Rutherford, New Jersey. However, it’s unlikely that Cruz will self-report for voluntary OTAs while a long-term deal for the star receiver is being negotiated.
Mandatory mini-camp for the G-Men starts mid-June. Look at this date as a deadline for Cruz to get a deal. Right now, no one is talking too much about the Giants’ wide-out holdout status because it really hasn’t been an issue. However, this story will continue to be a distraction and will grow legs if Cruz starts to miss mandatory practice time due to contract negotiations by the end of June. Right now, everyone is taking a wait-and-see approach and hoping for the best.
Meanwhile at mini-camp, rookie safety Cooper Taylor gave an interview with the Giants Insider revealing his versatile playing style saying, “I think I move a little better, run a little better than a typical box safety … Depending on the status, a lot (cover 3), you can see me back (in the secondary), but you’ll see me down covering the tight end, also in the box taking on a fullback on a running play.”
Everyone knows the Giants have problems at linebacker. This is hardly anything new to report, but this is by far the team’s biggest concern going in to mini camp.
Giants GM Jerry Reese’s irregular patchwork crew of linebackers seems to fit the Giants’ needs as ESPN’s Dan Graziano writes in the NFC East Blog, “(The) Giants spend less time every year in their base 4-3 as passing offenses continue to get more complex and they have to run nickel corners and third safeties into the lineup to offset them. So linebacker is, by definition, a low-priority item for them.”
Which brings me back to the Taylor’s versatility on coverage. Look for him to play some hybrid safety/linebacker coverage role with the cover-three package, especially when covering playmaking tight ends, but this doesn’t solve the Giants’ need for solid middle and strong-side linebackers.