EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** Tom Coughlin said today he's "not ruling anything out" regarding Victor Cruz's availability for the Giants' season opener Sunday night in Dallas. But Cruz's fellow star receivers are resigned to playing without him in AT&T Stadium.
Cruz has not practiced since Aug. 17 because of a calf injury. If he does not play, Odell Beckham Jr., Rueben Randle and the Giants' other receivers – including tight ends and running backs – will become more frequent targets of Eli Manning's passes.
"With him not being able to play this first game, they're going to move guys around," Beckham said today. "That's what we've practiced, just moving guys around. Everybody has to know every position. Wherever they move us is exactly where we're going to be at."
Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo believes the Giants can move the ball and score points with or without Cruz.
"We're going to take the approach that who's out here and who's practicing, we're going to have a good plan for them," he said. "If we get any surprises or bonuses, we'll be ready for that, too. We'll roll with the punches, as far as that goes."
"I feel like we have a lot of weapons, and feeling good about where we are and what we're trying to do," Manning said. "Now it's just about going out and executing and making the plays that are out there."
The Giants' top three wideouts – Cruz, Beckham and Randle – played together for only six quarters last season before Cruz tore his right patellar tendon at Philadelphia on Oct. 12. They have been looking forward to the opportunity to making life miserable for opposing defenses. Now it seems they will have to wait a bit longer.
It's trying their patience, but the receivers are willing to wait for Cruz and their opportunity to work as a trio.
"You want him to come out there when he's comfortable," Randle said. "We don't want him to rush it. So, at the same time we feel what he feels, and if he's not ready, he's not ready. It's our job to make up what he lacks. So we've got to do a great job making some plays for him."
"Of course, we all want Vic to be out there playing," Beckham said. "It's hard when this is the one thing that you love. Not that it's taken away from you, but you can't be out there with your team, and I know he wants to be out there. All we can do is go out there and make him proud. Play to the best of our ability, and when he's back with us and back to going, I'm definitely looking forward to it and excited."
- When the Giants last faced the Cowboys on Nov. 23, 2014, Beckham provided the highlight of the NFL season with his acrobatic one-handed touchdown catch of a Manning pass. Cornerback Brandon Carr, who was covering Beckham on the play seen round-the world, has made it clear he dislikes revisiting that play. Might the Cowboys' defensive backs have a little extra incentive on Sunday, considering they've been in highlights for the wrong reason for the last nine months?
"It's a Dallas-Giants game anyways, so if that's not enough for you - whatever they need to use as extra motivation," Beckham said. "We're going to do the same. I'm just excited to be able to open up the season, especially against a team that's really good and a team that's in the division. And being able to go down to Dallas and start off the season the right way."**>> BECKHAM JR. CAN BREAK NFL RECORD** *
Carr isn't alone in his reluctance to talk about the catch – or, more accurately, The Catch. Beckham also wants to move onto other subjects.
"Actually, I just saw a replay of it today," he said. "I don't really turn it on and watch it anymore. I've seen it a few times, maybe once or twice. And it is what it is. I can't really say much more about it."
What if Beckham had a dollar for every time he's been asked about the catch?
"I'd be rich," he said. "I'd be rich. I'd be rich, for sure. I've been asked about it a few times, for sure."
- Middle linebacker Jon Beason (knee) and rookie defensive end Owa Odighizuwa (foot) today joined Cruz (calf) as Giants players who did not practice today.
"(Beason) was sore today and the medical people decided to hold him," Coughlin said. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow."
Beason practiced on a limited basis yesterday. Asked today how he was doing, Beason said, "I'm doing just okay. … Wednesday was basically to gauge where I was full speed and see how I felt. Obviously, we were in pads, tackling, and changing directions. Felt pretty good. It's just, see how it feels the next day, and so it's a little sore, so the smartest thing to do is to take a day off and see how it feels tomorrow."
"Jon's gotten some work in this week," defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. "Not a lot today, obviously. I know coach (Coughlin) probably addressed it, so I'll leave it at that. But we're hopeful, we're hopeful. We need everybody."
Does Beason think he will play Sunday?
"That's the plan," he said. "Trust me, I don't want to miss Dallas, Sunday Night Football, the opener, so for me personally, it means everything."
Spagnuolo wouldn't say who would start if Beason doesn't suit up. The options include Uani 'Unga, a first-year pro who has not played in a regular-season game, and Jasper Brinkley, who joined the team yesterday.
"We have some other options, too," Spagnuolo said. "Mark (Herzlich) has played it a little bit, so he could slide in. We've got some things we can do, but we'll keep our fingers crossed on Jon. See what happens." * Odighizuwa missed practice for the first time.
"He has a sore foot, and the trainers thought it was best that he get treatment and hold him out today," Coughlin said. "Again, we'll see how he feels tomorrow."
"It's just something that has been a little tender for a while," Odighizuwa said. "So they wanted to be smart, and not go too hard on it today. Longer practice, longer periods, so they wanted to be smart about it."
Asked if he had concerns about being ready for the game, Odighizuwa said, "No, not at all."
The good news on the injury front is that defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (hamstring) and linebacker Jonathan Casillas (neck) practiced fully after they were limited yesterday.
Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn said he has been impressed with new punter Brad Wing, who was acquired last week in a trade with Pittsburgh.
"He's been very good with his operation time," Quinn said. "He's been good, location is getting better, and we're always constantly striving to get the hang and distance."
- Wing's other role is to hold for Josh Brown's field goal and extra point attempts.
"At the end of the day, he (Brown) has to kick the ball, Zak (DeOssie) has to snap, and Brad has to hold," Quinn said. "I told him don't worry about it, the ball will be down, and you kick it. A lot of times you get into problems when you start worrying too much about stuff you can't control. They've worked well together."
- McAdoo, on whether he was concerned about the offense's tepid preseason performance: "No, not one bit."
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