A healthy Victor Cruz and an explosive Odell Beckham Jr. could pair up to be the most dangerous wideout duo in the NFC East for the New York Giants.
It’s been over a year since Victor Cruz stepped foot on the practice field, but the New York Giant receiver is back at it after participating in individual drills at the team’s mandatory minicamp, Tuesday. Though he hasn’t been in team drills yet, still cautionary of his overall health, it’s a good sign for the Giants’ offense.
Injury has sidelined Cruz for the better part of two years, suffering a torn patellar tendon in October of 2014, he was sidelined completely for the 2015 season. The Giants, however, did more than OK without him thanks to Odell Beckham Jr.
And that’s why the return of the 29-year-old wideout leaves the NFC East and the rest of the league worried.
Beckham enjoyed back-to-back seasons of success, causing havoc as a deep threat. He finished fifth in the league in receiving yards (1,450). He heads into his junior year in the league with a target on his back. But this season, it won’t be all about him.
At the top of his game, Cruz had a stellar 2011 season, finishing third in the league (1,536). It was also the best year to date for the New York franchise, overcoming the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl for the second time in five years. And it was in 2011 that Eli Manning bumped the ceiling with an almost 5,000-yard season – his best year yet.
It’s going to have to go hand-in-hand in 2016. Not only will Cruz’s game depend on his health, but he’s going to need Manning to throw his best yet. A good season for Cruz and a good season for Manning means … well I won’t get to ahead of myself.
The Giants drafted the golden ticket of receivers in this year’s draft, taking Sterling Shepard in the second round. With coverage focused on Beckham and Cruz, the Oklahoma rookie is poised to have a breakout freshman year.
With focus strictly on wide receivers, the Giants are the it-team in the NFC East, with the potential to have an immense amount of depth.
So here’s a quick look at other receivers around the division.
Washington Redskins: There’s no doubt that the reining NFC East champs have a plethora of options at the receiver position, but there isn’t a No. 1 threat in the open field outside of tight end Jordan Reed. Leading last year’s wideout corps consisted of Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder and DeSean Jackson carrying the bulk of the workload. Josh Doctson, the 21st overall pick in the draft, should see production for the Redskins pending his return from injury.
Dallas Cowboys: Dez Bryant is not only the best receiver in Dallas, the two-time Pro Bowler is arguably the best in the league. He led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2014 with 16 but spent most of 2015 season injured. Bryant returns in 2016 as big a threat as always, especially in combination with Tony Romo. But after the No. 1 spot, Dallas kind of evens out. Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley share the No. 2-3 slots with balanced production. But there’s no real big threat outside of Bryant. Not at receiver, at least.
Philadelphia Eagles: There’s no clear top spot at the receiver position for Philadelphia. Receiver Jordan Matthews led the team last season, but the next best producers came from the tight end spots with Zach Ertz and Brent Celek, respectively. Nelson Agholor is expected to have a breakout season after falling short of high expectations his rookie year. The Eagles did, however, recognize the blaring holes and signed Reuben Randle, fresh off the hands of New York.