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Offense aims to find consistency before postseason begins


**'s Dan Salomone highlights the key takeaways from Wednesday's Media Hour:


After his 700-day odyssey in returning to the field, Victor Cruz has posted numbers that are all over the map this season.

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With one game left before the playoffs, he is tied with Atlanta's Taylor Gabriel for 72nd in the NFL with 579 receiving yards. At the same time, he also ranks 12th in average yards per catch among players with at least two receptions per team game played. The former is 70 spots behind Odell Beckham Jr. while the latter is 20 spots ahead of his teammate and the fastest receiver in NFL history to reach 4,000 yards.

The discrepancy shows up in Cruz's game logs: one reception for 46 yards, one for 48, one for 37, one for 29, and so on. But that all changed last Thursday night in Philadelphia, the same place he enjoyed his breakout game in 2011. This time, he posted 84 yards on eight catches, the most since producing the same total in Week 11 of 2013. His 13 targets were the most since having 16 earlier in that same season.

"[I was] just getting the ball thrown my way, man," Cruz said. "I'm trying to be a valve for Eli, be open, get myself open, and he found me a few times and it felt good. It felt good to catch the rock, make some plays, and make some things happen, in Philadelphia no less."

Despite outgaining the Eagles, 470-286, in total yards, the Giants were 1-for-5 in the red zone, turned the ball over three times, and consequently lost the game. So instead of talking about the offense exploding at the right time, the conversation centered on how the unit will produce in the postseason. That's something Cruz is aware of and something he wants to see fixed in Week 17 at Washington.

"We understand that, listen, the defense has bailed us out a lot this year," Cruz said. "In moments where, at least us as receivers, we want the ball in the fourth quarter to close the game out. We want to make a play to close the game out. Earlier in the season, we have. But the majority, the middle of the season, towards the end, the defense has just been holding it down, playing lights-out football."

While the Giants have one more game to tune up the offense before the postseason push, here's the news of the day from the Quest Diagnostics Training Center:


For the Giants, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (core muscle) did not participate in practice. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins (back), safety Nat Berhe (concussion), linebacker B.J. Goodson (concussion) and tight end Will Tye (illness) were limited.

For the Redskins, cornerback Quinton Dunbar (concussion), defensive lineman Chris Baker (ankle), and safeties Su'a Cravens (upper arm) and Donte Whitner Sr. (quad) did not practice. Running back Robert Kelley (knee), center Spencer Long (ankle), offensive lineman Vinston Painter (calf), tight end Jordan Reed (shoulder), and linebackers Will Compton (knee), Ryan Kerrigan (elbow), Trent Murphy (foot) and Martrell Spaight (shoulder) were limited. Cornerback Bashaud Breeland (ankle) and wide receiver DeSean Jackson (jaw) were full-go.



Coach Ben McAdoo was asked today about his approach to the finale in terms of resting players. His response: "They like to play games, games are fun, practices are work. Games are fun, that's what we do for a living and it's exciting. We have an opportunity to go play a division opponent, we're 7-1 at home, they knocked us off at home. It will be exciting to go down to Washington and play a game."


Unable to clinch a berth with a win on Thursday night, the Giants had a handful of other scenarios to punch their ticket in Week 16, including New Orleans defeating Tampa Bay. That happened late Saturday afternoon. "I was shooting hoops with my kids on Saturday," McAdoo said. "I spent a little time at home on Saturday afternoon, so that was good. Other than that, had the opportunity to watch a couple of ball games. I'm happy for the Saints, it was a big win for them."


Jason Pierre-Paul, who has now missed three games since undergoing surgery to repair a core muscle injury, is "getting better," according to McAdoo. The head coach said he hasn't had an update on him recently and added that the star defensive end will be back "when they tell me. It's a medical question."


The Giants are more familiar than they would like to be when it comes to Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson and his big-play capability. The former Eagle is tied with Beckham and Oakland's Amari Cooper for second in the NFL with 14 receptions of 25 or more yards.

"When I look at him, he kind of lulls guys to sleep," said second-year safety Landon Collins, who was recently named to his first Pro Bowl. "He doesn't use his actual speed when he is running his routes and stuff like that and then when he knows he is about to go deep, he hits it and hits you while you are asleep basically, and he gets behind you and Kirk just has to throw it up and he will go get it."

Photos from the all-time series between the Giants and Redskins

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