We're in the end of the month of July when NFL training camps are in full swing and teams are testing their signed players with players who weren't drafted but are given the opportunity to try out for the dream of playing for in the league. Two years ago, one of those players that tried out was Victor Cruz.
In the 2011 season, Cruz not only made the team but became one of the biggest breakout receivers in the league. He led led the team to a Super Bowl win and performed a touchdown salsa dance that has become his trademark. Since then he's been in a bunch of commercials and received a new contract extension. He's become so good even Jay-Z signed with him as an agent. But some say he's still underrated.
Also, some people say he's not worth the attention as some other players on offense after the Giants had a lackluster defense of their NFL championship crown and with the competition in the NFC stacked with rising stars and power-packed contenders, the Giants may have a hard time trying to become the first NFL team to play in their home stadium for the Super Bowl.
Cruz's two-year career stats of 168 receptions, 2,628 receiving yards, and 19 touchdowns isn't a sign of a legend-in-the-making the way Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin, and John Taylor were playing in their first two seasons. Plus, Cruz doesn't have the stats of other current wide receivers Mike Wallace, Jacoby Jones, and Anquan Boldin.
What Cruz is, though, is a team player and when Eli Manning is on top of his game, he'll be there to catch footballs on winning drives. He's on veteran Hakeem Nick's side when it comes to renewing his contract with the Giants, and since he's with the team he wants to use every year of the new five year deal to prove many cynics wrong.
While Cruz, Manning, and Nicks will be under scrutiny, especially without Ahmad Bradshaw, the team's biggest challenge isn't from the offense. Their defense will be tested without Osi Umenyiora and if Justin Tuck doesn't get productive in solidifying the D then he might be out as well at the end of the season.
But when Victor Cruz steps on that field, he'll start to play like a receiver that shouldn't be underestimated. He doesn't want to be seen as a flash in the pan. He want to be seen as a team player. After all, he got his big break by leading his team to a championship and is now a Madison Avenue magnet for sponsors. Now he wants to lead his team to Super Bowl XLVIII which will be played across the river from that street.