ALBANY, N.Y. -- After the Keystone Kops-style officiating of the first preseason game, Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz just wants to see the old referees back. He never thought he'd be so happy to anticipate the return of some of the people who put on the black and white stripes and whistle him for penalties.
"I'm going to shake his hand and say thank you for coming back," Cruz said.
This year, the NFL has had two months to identify and prepare a new slate of replacement referees whose qualifications are, by definition, thinner than the full-time NFL refs, who are locked out during a labor dispute. The replacements have had less training and experience, which has shown at moments.
"We want to make sure we're getting the best calls and getting the best referees we can get on each and every game," Cruz said. "I actually heard one of the refs only reffed glorified high school games -- and I don't even know what that means, essentially. I just want to make sure we're getting the best guys out there reffing these games."
Last year, the NFL players' association had a similar labor dispute with the league, and players were locked out for much of the OTA portion of the year. The Giants didn't have their usual training camp in Albany in 2011, because of the logistics from the lockout. Cruz is sympathetic to the men and woman who are filling in.
"It's obviously tough for them because they have to get adjusted on the fly for refereeing NFL games," Cruz said.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning said teams can't worry about the officiating, and that the Giants have to worry about what it can control.
"Obviously you hope to have the guys who have worked hard and earned the spots to be an NFL official," Manning said, "but if it doesn't get worked out then we just got to worry about doing our business."
But the mistakes were noticed. A player was misidentified for offsides call, and a Giants penalty was attributed to the Jaguars. Cruz pointed out that calls and non-calls are often a safety issue as well, which heightens the importance of officiating.
"Making sure they have the best interests of the players at heart and that they're know what they're doing," Cruz said. "Because there were a few instances where there were some iffy calls made, like they called a holding call on the returner. And that was the most mind-boggling to me."
The Giants play the Jets in the second preseason game this Saturday at MetLife Stadium.