EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz will get some more work in before the preseason wraps. Cruz is expected to play approximately a series or two (8-10 snaps) in Thursday’s preseason finale against the New England Patriots, according to multiple sources.
Cruz will be paired with rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Some of the Giants' offensive starters will receive work as they try to erase the taste of a rough preseason. Star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and quarterback Eli Manning are not expected to play.
For Shepard, a second-round pick out of Oklahoma, receiving more reps is not a surprise.
“Yeah, I will be taking a few snaps, from what I heard so far,” Shepard said Tuesday.
Coach Ben McAdoo said playing-time decisions would be made on a “case-by-case” basis.
Cruz, 29, needs the work. He has missed most of the past two seasons with knee and calf injuries. He was sidelined for the first two preseason games this year because of a groin injury.
Cruz played in his first game in 685 days Saturday against the New York Jets. He had one catch for 4 yards in 29 snaps. But he did show some explosion on one play when he used a double move to get open deep. Only a bad throw (too short and inside) prevented Cruz from making a big play.
McAdoo thought the performance was encouraging, especially because he came out unscathed.
"It was a good step. Good step for him to take the other night,” McAdoo said earlier this week.
The fourth preseason game is often where starters either rarely play or don’t play at all. It often depends on the coach and situation.
Cruz has spent the past two weeks working with Manning, Beckham, Shepard and the Giants' first-team offense. He was thrown right back into that mix upon returning from his groin injury.
But the Giants' first-team offense hasn’t exactly impressed this preseason. They have four first downs and 88 yards in almost four quarters with Manning at quarterback.
Playing some -- or all -- the starters isn’t completely uncommon for the Giants. Former coach Tom Coughlin (a McAdoo mentor) also wasn’t shy about playing his first team in the fourth preseason game.
Cruz doesn’t have a problem getting some more last-minute work.
“I would like to,” he said Saturday night after playing in his first game in 22 months. “I know in the Coach Coughlin era, if we didn't play well in the third one, he'd give us a series or two in the fourth. We'll see how it goes. I definitely would love to play and obviously to continue to build some rapport with Eli and kind of just continue to build on what I’ve already put out there, but that’s obviously up to Coach McAdoo and we'll see what he says.”
He's saying that Cruz and some of the other Giants starters need more work.