EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Corey Washington is creating a buzz at Giants camp again.
Last summer, the undrafted rookie free agent out of Newberry College had fans' tongues wagging after catching a touchdown pass in each of the Giants' first four preseason games.
Cruz is still working his way back from the torn patellar tendon in his right knee, and Beckham is being held out because of a sore hamstring (the opposite hammy to the one that was hurt last season). That has led Giants coach Tom Coughlin to insert Washington with the first string, along with Rueben Randle and Preston Parker, and Coughlin likes what he has seen.
"He’s had a nice spring," Coughlin said Monday. "He’s worked hard, he’s had a good attitude, has a smile on his face. He’s done most everything we’ve asked him to do. And I think every time that he’s been called upon, he seems to have responded."
This coming from a coach who doesn't make a habit of showering praise on players, especially younger unproven ones.
But there has been a lot to like. Washington has made some nice catches during the OTAs open to the media.
And you can't help but like Washington physically. At 6-foot-4 and 214 pounds, he looks like a great target for Eli Manning.
The Giants' quarterback had positive things to say about Washington on Monday as well.
"I think [he has] a better understanding of the offense in his second year, and playing faster," Manning said. "He’s always had the ability to make the great catch, and run the go routes and the flys and the fades and those type of things. But kind of adding the complete package to his game. He’s had a good camp."
Washington was active for 14 regular-season games last year, but played only 57 offensive snaps, and finished with just five catches for 52 yards and one touchdown. Four of those catches came in the Week 9 blowout loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Late in the season, Washington publicly expressed disappointment in his lack of playing time, which may have led to him being inactive for the final game of the year.
Coughlin said he thinks Washington has matured a little bit, and it sounded that way Monday.
"It was a little frustrating -- everybody wants to play," Washington said. "But you gotta sit back and play your role."
Washington said the game has slowed down for him as he begins his second professional season.
"My confidence level is high," Washington said. "I’m gaining Eli’s trust and Coach’s trust, and he’s throwing me out there with the ones. So I just gotta continue to work and keep it up."
Once Cruz and Beckham get back on the field, all eyes will be on them, naturally. Those two have already proven they are elite NFL receivers.
But Washington still bears watching. Beckham should be fine, but Cruz is coming off a very serious injury -- it remains to be seen whether he can make it all the way back. And in the modern pass-happy NFL, you can never have enough good receivers, anyway.
With his height, Washington could be a red-zone specialist. Or maybe he could be more?
"I’m more than a jump-ball receiver," Washington said. "I’m a ballplayer. I’m a football player, I make plays."
After the Giants' mandatory minicamp next week, the players will go their separate ways for a few weeks before training camp. Washington normally goes home to South Carolina, but he said he may go to Arizona to work out with Beckham instead.
"I'm thinking about it," Washington said.
Sounds like a smart move. Washington may not be nearly as talented as Beckham. But he may have a future with the Giants, too.