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New York Giants’ Kevin Gilbride: Victor Cruz Will Remain Slot Receiver

May 8th, 2012 at 12:00 PM
By Dan Benton

While appearing at Southern Connecticut State University alongside wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride fielded a wide range of questions on Monday night. Among them were inquiries about wideout Victor Cruz and which role he'll play on offense during the 2012-2013 season.

Ending all the previous speculation, Gilbride said Cruz would remain the slot receiver.

“[The slot receiver] was what Cruz was this year. He can play the outside, but he was much more proficient inside," Gilbride said. “You need that third guy. Hopefully, if not one of our returning veterans, Randle will be able to give us what we’re looking for.”

In other words, it will be an open competition between Jerrel Jernigan, Ramses Barden, Domenik Hixon and Rueben Randle for the second outside spot. And although it's not necessarily a scenario that benefits the 5'9'' Jernigan, whom head coach Tom Coughlin once jokingly referred to as "One Play JJ", Gilbride feels he has the mental tools required to learn and adapt to the new position.

Gilbride also touched on the offensive line and the potential alignment, saying David Diehl at right tackle and Kevin Boothe at left guard will likely be the configuration.

"That would certainly seem to be the most likely way to do it," Gilbride said. "Those are your five guys starting. If we keep Beatty healthy, he's already out now. You have five starters but you got to get some guys behind that come to the forefront in case one of them goes down."

Finally, the offensive coordinator answered some questions on the newly signed Martellus Bennett, saying the tight end has everything necessary to make a big impact for Big Blue.

“I think he has the chance to be a very good all-around player; blocker, receiver, the whole bit,” Gilbride said. “He just hasn’t done it to the satisfaction of the Dallas people. We look at him and we see as a guy that physically has the chance to be very good.”

The Giants have done a great job amassing bodies that can fill in at a number of different positions, and they continued to do that through the 2012 NFL Draft. Ultimately, one word comes to mind: Dynamic.

So long as the offensive line can stay healthy this season, New York's offense could very well field more firepower than we've seen of any Giants team in recent memory.

Also…

Tags: Domenik Hixon, Football, Jerrel Jernigan, Kevin Gilbride, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Ramses Barden, Rueben Randle, Victor Cruz

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16 Responses to “New York Giants’ Kevin Gilbride: Victor Cruz Will Remain Slot Receiver”

  1.  norm says:

    Repost (being that it’s more relevant to the above article than it is to a piece about Eli & bananas):

    norm says:
    May 8, 2012 at 11:32 AM
    FWIW (likely not much) here’s how I see the O-line depth chart shaking out this year (pending injury of course)

    I think they carry 10 O-linemen on the active roster; maybe three on the PS. Here’s my guess for the active roster:

    LT: Beatty, Diehl, Locklear
    LG: Petrus?, Boothe
    OC: Baas, Cordle, Boothe
    RG: Snee, Mosley, Boothe
    RT: Diehl, Brewer, Locklear

    PS: McCants, Capers (if eligible), Reinders (cause I like the name)

    Petrus MUST improve his pass protection exponentially to win the starting job, hence the question mark. The only reason I penciled him in as the starter is because I believe that, ideally, the Giants would prefer Boothe back in his super-sub role where he could serve as insurance at three different positions (as indicated above) So Petrus will be given every opportunity to win the starting LG job.

    I know Mosley played tackle at Auburn but I think the Giants drafted him with an eye toward shifting him inside, per Reese’s comments after the draft. I think (hope?) he’s good enough to back up Snee this year and next and competes for a starters’ job at RG in 2014.

    I realize we’ve seen almost nothing from Cordle. But we know the coaches and FO like him and that he turned down an opportunity to go on the Bucs’ active roster to remain on the Giants PS a few years back. Presumably, he’s much more adept at snapping the ball than Boothe. My guess is that he wins the backup job to Baas this season.

    I doubt Locklear sees much playing time if the tackles remain healthy this year. But he will provide important insurance. If Beatty goes down, I think Diehl moves from RT to LT at which point Brewer will be inserted as the starter, if ready. If Brewer is not ready, then Locklear would assume the starting RT job.

    Finally, the only camp cut who I see as an absolute lock for the PS is McCants. Odd as it sounds, he was drafted for the PS. Reese is on record as saying that he thinks he can compete for the starting LT job in a year or two. But the GM is also shrewd enough to understand that McCants is way too raw to be of much use on the Giants – or any other team’s – active roster this season. Hence, he can be stashed on the PS in 2012 without any fear of his being poached.

    Flame away.

    •  kujo says:

      Think you’re right, though I hate that we have to pencil Boothe in as a starter. I think he’s fine, but no great shakes.

      •  norm says:

        My opinion of Boothe is considerably higher.

        I actually thought he played very well at LG last year. Maybe not Pro Bowl level, but certainly starter quality for just about any team in this league. The Giants could do much worse than him at that position.

        Such as the 2011 Petrus, f’rinstance. Yeah, I know he’s adored around here for his 97 million reps at the Combine; his over the top, wacked-out persona; and his skills as a road grader in the run game… but his pass protection last year was simply dreadful. Actually, that’s being too kind. It was far worse than dreadful.

        That said, I think the starting LG job is his to lose (even in spite of Killdrive’s comments). I really, really believe that Giants want him to step up and claim it in camp and will likely accord him every opportunity to do so. I think they very much like having a starter quality player (in Boothe) who can competently fill three different positions, if needed. Again, their ability to move Boothe back to that super sub role all hinges on Petrus’ readiness. That’s why I have Petrus listed at the top of the depth chart at LG.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      If Locklear is the 4th OT I don’t think he makes the team. I think one of the young guys makes it instead.

      I don’t see why Coordle moves ahead of Boothe as backup center if he couldn’t last year. Boothe can practice snaps during this offseason along with Snee and Petrus. I don’t think Coordle makes this roster. A one position player is hard to keep as a backup on the OL.

      •  norm says:

        It would be far too risky to go into the season with Boothe as the only possible backup at center.

        What happens if Petrus isn’t good enough and Boothe has to start at LG? Who will step in then if Baas goes down?

        Near as I can tell, Cordle is the only other player on the roster besides Boothe and Baas who has ANY experience at center. That has value, even if it’s the only position he can play. The Giants are simply not going to leave themselves that vulnerable at center by carrying only Baas and Boothe on the roster.

        •  GOAT56 says:

          I think we keep a young center prospect like Cordle on the PS. Of course if we have injury another center would help. But when you look at the roster as a whole I rather have players like Witherspoon or Paysinger over Cordle. I don’t think Cordle was on the opening 53 last year until Bass got hurt.

          •  norm says:

            Cordle can’t go on the PS.

            I think he was on the roster for most – if not all – of last year thereby rendering him ineligible for any future stints on the PS.

            I think you are grossly underestimating how seriously the Giants take the backup center position. They spent years grooming Koets for that very role, tolerating numerous exchange gaffes in camp and preseason in the process.

            Cordle has been in this system for at least two seasons now and is presumably familiar with the playbook and the line calls. That has tremendous value to the team even if his abilities as a player turn out to be nothing more than pedestrian. Considering how long it took Baas to get up to speed on the mental aspects of the center position, the Giants are not about to kick Cordle to the curb because he “only plays one position” or “they could find someone better.”

            Barring injury, Cordle is a virtual lock to make this roster.

            •  GOAT56 says:

              I said a young player like Cordle. I know he can’t go to PS. We signed Bass for a reason and when he got injured Boothe got the call and continue to get the call. So it seems that the coaches believe he’s our 2nd best center option. Therefore why are you keep a 3rd center only option on the roster. We would prefer to have a 3rd QB also but with a 53 man roster you have to make some sacrifices. A few of the guys we signed play center or have the ability to play center. They can be groomed just like Cordle was. I would prefer to keep but not over some of the other players that will be on the roster bubble. I think Cordle roster spot is very much in credit. You are underestimating that Boothe is likely our backup center.

  2.  kujo says:

    I bet you Hixon starts off as the 2nd outside guy in 3-wide sets, with Nicks and Cruz occupying the other 2 spots. That’s a solid lineup, because realistically, any of those 3 could run any of the routes proficiently. You can bet that Cruz and Nicks will draw lots of double attention this year, meaning that your 3rd guy needs to be able to beat the 3rd or 4th defensive back on the field. I think Hixon could be able to do that, though I suspect/hope that Randle comes on quick and supplants the veterans above him. He offers infinitely more upside and big play potential in the “Replace Mario” role.

    As for Jernigan, I see him more as a guy who can spell Cruz at this point. Similar skillset and size, and he’d be dynamite in the slot. Hope he can earn Eli’s trust.

    Barden? Not to pull a jcharles, but CHILDDDD PLEAAAZ!!!! That dude is gone at the end of camp.

    •  kujo says:

      I’d also like to say that Jernigan should get some looks as a receiver out of the backfield.

      •  GOAT56 says:

        Last year I was a big Hixon supporter for 3rd WR. However, I don’t trust his health. And neither can the coaches. I think if it’s close, Hixon loses out to one of the young guys because he can’t be counted on. I understand if healthy Hixon fits well on the outside. But I don’t think our drafting Randle was with any attention of a redshirt. I don’t even think drfating Randle says anything bad about Jernigan. If Cruz is a slot WR then it’s hard for Jernigan to earn anything but spot playing time because he’s not suited for the outside and I think JR and the coaches knew this. Basically, I think the starting job will come down to Barden or Randle. I think Randle wins the job. He was drafted as NFL ready and due to his rawness coming our Barden isn’t as much ahead of him as it would seem.

        •  Luv2Salsa says:

          I too have questions about Hixon’s knee. We were all in a dither about TT’s twice torn ACL, but I think Hixon’s was more of the dreaded “re-injury” because it was only 15 months later. It will be a medical marvel if he can go full-out in camp. The trainers will likely be cautious. If he’s not ready, PUP is a possibility. He could also be released and become a “couch” free agent, which might provide some depth down the stretch.

          The good news is that if Hixon or Barden can’t cut the mustard, DePalma likely will.

    •  Luv2Salsa says:

      Barden is EXACTLY the kind of player Reese likes to sign off of somebody else’s trash heap. A good colligate player. Good draft grades. Untimely injuries and failure to find his niche. I don’t think he’ll be released until the powers that be are positive he’s a bust. I expect him to step it up in camp.

      •  GOAT56 says:

        Yeah Barden has to be beaten out. Remember it wasn’t until Cruz that Moss got knocked off the roster. If we don’t have a young guy really flash they are not making the roster. If we want to keep Cruz in the slot Barden becomes more valuable going against a rookie and injury prone vet.

  3.  Luv2Salsa says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hixon, Barden, and Randle all getting snaps as the outside #3 for the first 3 weeks or so. They’ll probably put a few plays in the gameplan for each receiver each week, then depending on the call, that receiver takes the field. Then each week Randle’s role gets expanded by a play or two…and in no time at all, a star is born.

  4.  Sonny Mukhopadhyay says:

    For Barden, it’s do or die, sink or swim, dive or thrive, crap or get of the pot, in or out, etc……lol

    He’s 6’6, he’s physically gifted, has big hands, there is NO reason, none, for him not to have made an impact right now.

    If he has the work ethic, and puts in the time, he will have a good chance, but its all up to him, if he doesn’t do it now, he never will, and he won’t be a Giant for long.

    I don’t know if it was his work ethic or just bad luck or what the deal was, but none of that matters now, this is it, its his last chance, he has the skills, he knows the playbook, he’s practiced and knows Eli, knows the system/scheme, and everything else, there really isn’t any excuse anymore.

    I’m hoping that he finally delivers, having a 6’6 WR on the outside, could really light things up, but he has to deliver now, or thats it. I’m hoping he is putting in the work, and the time, to finally break through, but if he doesn’t, its bye bye time.

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