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Victor Cruz aims for increased role in Giants offense


*Victor Cruz addresses his role in the Giants offense heading into Week 14: *

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Victor Cruz had a conversation today with head coach Ben McAdoo and left it believing more productive game days are in his future.

After he did not have a pass thrown his way in the Giants' 24-14 loss Sunday in Pittsburgh, Cruz said, "I'm gonna talk to somebody," to find out why. That somebody was McAdoo.

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"He came up to me," Cruz said. "I came into the building, we were getting ready for our first meeting and he came up to me and was like, 'You are coming to see me, right?' I was like, 'Yeah, I am coming to see you.' Shortly after, I came and saw him and we spoke and then that was it. He was receptive to what I was saying, I understood everything he said and we took it from there."

Cruz hopes to be more involved in the season's final four games, beginning Sunday night at home against the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys. He was asked if he thought he'd be targeted this week.

"I leave every meeting feeling like that," Cruz said. "But obviously, I think there will be some concerned efforts to get everyone the football and get everyone involved, including myself, so to answer that in short, yes, it feels like I will be getting at least one target this week."

Cruz wasn't looking to pin blame on anyone for his relative inactivity, which has included just three receptions in the last four games in which he's played. He said several factors contributed to his lack of action against the Steelers.

"I saw that there were definitely some areas of the ball game where I could have gotten the football, or was open enough to receive the football," he said. "But a multitude of things, like Eli (Manning) getting flushed to the opposite side or just getting sacked or getting pressured or whatever the case may be, kind of negated that. So yeah, there were opportunities, but were those opportunities and plays where I could have gotten the ball? Some yeah and some no. Obviously, sometimes the defense dictates where the ball goes."

"There's opportunities to get him the ball," Manning said. "It's just all dependent on reads and coverage."

In a victory in Cleveland the previous week, Sterling Shepard wasn't targeted. Manning made it a point to apologize to the rookie receiver when the team next convened. He said he will also speak with Cruz.

"I'm going to talk to him," Manning said. "I haven't had a chance to get with him yet but yes, I'll talk to Victor.

"Always have a talk with Victor. He's one of the receivers and we're good buddies. We'll be fine. We have to get him the ball. He's a playmaker for us. Unfortunately, Shep didn't get a target last week, and Victor didn't get one this week. We just have to get everyone involved, get them catches and get them going."

Odell Beckham, Jr. is far and away No. 1 on the target list. He's had 27 passes thrown to him in the last two weeks, including 16 in Pittsburgh (he caught 10). His 125 targets this season are the league's third-highest total. He also has team-high totals of 75 catches for 1,015 yards and eight touchdowns. Manning conceded it's not easy to keep everyone happy.

"That's always the case," he said. "When you have good receivers and a lot of playmakers, some weeks you're going to get targeted more than others. It's not necessarily because of the game plan. It's just what other teams are doing, what they're playing and how the game unfolds. Again, Victor has made big plays for us this year. We have to make sure he continues to do that. He's expecting the ball and we have to get the ball in his hands some."

Did Manning see anything he can build on?

"Just making good decisions," he said. "Get back to having good fundamentals. Look at throws and accuracy. Going through my reads and hanging in there. I did some good things. Obviously, some things I can improve on also."

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

The larger question is perhaps this: with Manning at quarterback and talented receivers like Beckham, Cruz and Shepard, why have the Giants finished with less than 200 passing yards in each of the last two games?

"I think it is just trying to find that consistency," Cruz said. "Trying to find those play calls or those situational plays that work for us, and sticking with those and being great with those. I think it is just a matter of time before we get those and we start clicking. We just have to stay the course and understand that we didn't go on a six-game win streak for no reason. It happened for a reason, because we are a good team and we felt what winning feels like in this locker room. And we just want to get back to that."

*The Giants today signed defensive end Jordan Williams to their practice squad. Williams, 6-4 and 276 pounds, played one game for the 2015 Miami Dolphins (Dec. 6 vs. Baltimore).

Williams was originally signed as a rookie free agent by the Jets on May 8, 2015, from the University of Tennessee. He was waived at the end of training camp and spent two weeks on the Jets' practice squad before his contract was terminated. Williams was signed to the Dolphins' practice squad on Oct. 6 and to the active roster on Dec. 5. This year, he was waived on Sept. 3, signed to Miami's practice squad two days later, and was released on Sept. 20.

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