I promised you guys more from my time at New York Giants training camp, and I keep these kinds of promises. I'm going to keep going through my notes and rolling out posts that I think are interesting, based on the interviews I did while there. As long as Camp Confidential was, not everything fit in there. So while I'm at Redskins training camp the next two days and Eagles the two days after that, you're still going to get some of my Giants reporting from late last week. Enjoy.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Giants quarterback Eli Manning is keenly aware of the fact that he has two star wide receivers who do not carry themselves in any way that resembles the stereotype of the star wide receiver. Hakeem Nicks, who has been on the sideline for training camp practices so far as he recovers from his spring foot injury, and Victor Cruz, who is working on an encore to his brilliant 2011 breakout season, are as humble as they come.
"I'm very fortunate," Manning told me in an interview before Saturday's practice. "Both of them are great guys. They've worked extremely hard. They're humble. They're best friends. They room together here at training camp. They cheer for each other's success. And they know I don't have favorites. I'm going to the guy who's open. And I expect you to work hard and I expect you to know what you're doing and I want everybody to have success. Just that attitude and the way they practice, both of those guys, that's what I appreciate. That's why both of them have had great success."
Nicks, already established last year as the Giants' best receiver, took Cruz under his wing, and the pair became best friends, texting each other late at night on topics ranging from film study to parenthood. Where another star wide receiver might have feared the possibility of Cruz encroaching on his territory, or taking catches away from him, Nicks was determined to help Cruz get better. With several players, including rookie Rueben Randle, fighting for the No. 3 wide receiver spot vacated by Mario Manningham, Cruz now wants to pay that forward.
"I'm just putting myself in a position where, whatever young guys or whatever guys need help or want to talk or need any advice on the plays, I'm here for them," Cruz said. "Because I've been through the plays, I've gone through this offense, this is my third year, so I know a lot of this stuff. So I just want to be here and be a voice for the young guys or whoever needs help."
I wouldn't expect a letdown year for Cruz, or a slow start for Nicks following his injury. I think both of these guys are the real deal, are humble and driven and will continue to produce as long as they remain healthy. I also think their personalities are a key part of the leadership structure that allows the Giants to believe they can regenerate their roster from within. The young guys who come into this system learn how to play and how to carry themselves from the guys who are already there. And examples like the ones Nicks and Cruz set can only be helpful.