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WR Cruz gets special jersey at practice


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.** – The players that are the easiest to spot at a Giants practice are the three quarterbacks, because they wear bright red jerseys to prevent them from getting hit. The scarlet brigade added a fourth player today in wide receiver Victor Cruz, who wore a red No. 8 jersey. Cruz wears No. 80, but the Giants had no red top in his color. So he opted for one of David Carr's old jerseys.

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Cruz hurt his neck in the Giants' most recent game, on Oct. 27 in Philadelphia. He did not practice yesterday and was limited today, as the Giants continued preparing for their home game Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.

"It's an unusual situation," coach Tom Coughlin said. "(Cruz wore red) so he can get through the practice and not have any setbacks, and I think we did that."

Cruz took some ribbing from other players for wearing the bright jersey. Justin Tuck said the Pro Bowl receiver will never live down wearing red.

"As soon as I brought it out here from the training room, he was like, 'Oh man, say it ain't so,'" Cruz said in the locker room. "But I had to do it. It was good, it was a good talking point for the guys today."

Did Cruz object to being singled out?

"Hey man, I just work here," he said. "I just abide by the rules. Coach Coughlin wanted me to put the red jersey on just to make sure everyone understands not to hit me when I'm out there running routes and to prevent the injury from happening again. He knows if somebody tries to bump me or something, my instinct is going to kick in and want to do something. I think that's all that was. I kind of liked the red jersey. I was fooling around with Eli (Manning). If he needed a break any time, I'm available."

"It's just a matter of not wanting to re-tweak it and reinjure it again, because it's so easy to do that, especially in practice," Cruz said. "You know the way I run my routes, aggressively and things like that in and out of the breaks. So I don't want to do something stupid to kind of reinjure it. We're just kind of taking it day-by-day."

And tomorrow, Cruz could well be back in his traditional white practice jersey.

"I think today we will assess where he is following this practice," Coughlin said, "and if there are no issues, he won't be wearing red tomorrow and he'll practice."

*Jason Pierre-Paul has expressed confidence this week that he's going to have a breakout game against the Raiders.

"I'm ready for him to have a breakout game," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. "I think we're all anticipating and have been waiting for him to have a breakout game. I think the bye week obviously helped him a lot and so he's practiced well this week. He's got a pep in his step and we're looking for good things."

*The Giants' punt team has surrendered four touchdowns this season, three on returns and one on an errant snap. So it's no surprise what special teams coordinator Tom Quinn did during the bye week.

"We looked at the punt extensively and the hang, the distance and location of the punts is number one," Quinn said. "Put it in a consistent area where you know it's going to be as a coverage team and then the second thing was the quickness off the ball and then the quickness of the release being more violent with the hands to be able to get out and run and take the lane that you're supposed to take. Those are the two biggest things that came out."

*Cornerback Corey Webster played sparingly in the last two games after missing four with a groin injury. Fewell said Trumaine McBride has taken over Webster's spot at left corner.

"I consider him a starter," Fewell said of McBride. "I think he's started (three) ballgames for us and so it's his job to lose."

Fewell said of Webster, "He's a guy that wants to compete and he wants to play and he just hasn't been able to get healthy for whatever reason. I think he played maybe less than a half dozen snaps against the Eagles. He rolled his ankle or something of that nature and so we want him on the field, he wants to be on the field, but his body won't let him get on the field."

Neither McBride nor Webster practiced today.

"(McBride has) some soreness in the groin kind of area," Coughlin said, "so we decided to hold him and see if he's better and ready to go tomorrow."

In addition to Cruz, cornerbacks Terrell Thomas (knee) and Jayron Hosley (hamstring) and running back Brandon Jacobs (hamstring/knee) were limited.

*The Giants-Raiders game matches the NFL's oldest head coach (Coughlin, who is 67) against the league's youngest head coach (Oakland's Dennis Allen, who is 41). This is the first meeting between the league's oldest and youngest coaches since Sept. 27, 2009, when the Giants and Coughlin, then 63, defeated Tampa Bay and Raheem Morris, who was 33.

*The Giants trail in the series with Oakland, 7-4. The series has been marked by streaks. Oakland/Los Angeles won the first three, the Giants won the next two, the Raiders then won four in a row and the Giants won the two most recent meetings. The teams last faced each other in Giants Stadium on Oct. 11, 2009, when the Giants crushed the Raiders, 44-7. Eli Manning played only the first five series of the game and completed 8 of 10 passes for 173 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a perfect passer rating of 158.3.

*The Giants will host their 17th annual food drive at MetLife Stadium when they host the Raiders on Sunday. Fans are encouraged to bring canned or non-perishable foods and deposit them at any of the Shop & Shop trucks parked at each stadium entrance.

All food collected during the drive will be donated to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey – a member of Feeding America – for distribution to local partner agencies in the area.

Since 1997, the Giants have hosted an annual food drive and helped feed thousands of their neighbors during the holiday season. Thanks to the generosity of our fans, nearly 5,000 pounds of canned or non-perishable foods is collected each year. Once again, we ask our friends and fans to Join the Team and assist our neighbors in need.

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