Commentary

Opportunity might knock again for Cruz

Manningham injury might give rookie another shot to build on Jersey celebrity status

Updated: September 30, 2010, 8:03 AM ET
By Jane McManus | ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- If Victor Cruz needed any evidence of how much life has changed since the New York Giants signed him as an undrafted free agent, he only needed to recount what happened at a recent family party.

He went to his cousin's first birthday at a hall in New Jersey, only to find that he was one of the main attractions.

"I must have taken a million pictures," Cruz said. "People were Twitpic-ing me, it was crazy."

[+] EnlargeCruz
Tony Kurdzuk/US PresswireVictor Cruz, a revelation in the preseason, is still searching for his first regular-season reception.

Even his most distant relatives wanted a chance to be part of his success, and up loaded their photos to a social networking site.

Things have changed for Victor Cruz since -- while merely a rookie from Paterson, N.J. -- he declared the Giants would top the crosstown Jets in their preseason matchup. The former UMass wide receiver scored three touchdowns in the second half, boosting the Giants to a 31-16 victory and prompting Twitter props from LeBron James.

Yes, that LeBron James.

This Sunday night, when the Giants hosts the Chicago Bears, Cruz could be the third wide receiver on the depth chart if Mario Manningham sits with a concussion. Cruz practiced in that spot on Wednesday while Manningham was out.

"It went well, I made some plays. I was just trying to stay error-free," Cruz said.

Since his emergence in the preseason, Cruz has played in a few offensive series, contributing mostly as a blocker on kick returns. He has yet to get the ball, and imagines it will be a big moment when he does.

"It would mean a lot for me. It would definitely be one of the proudest moments of my life," Cruz said. "And I just try to make as many plays as I can and try not to drop the ball and make all my blocks."

He's hoping that when he does get his chance, fans still remember him. That seems a given considering that Cruz is setting up appearances and signings on the strength of his rookie preseason.

"I'm just trying to get out there and just meet the people and do whatever is asked of me," he said.

Watching the offense from the sideline has been a challenge.

"It's been a little tough but you just try to stay positive and cheer on your teammates," Cruz said.

Might not be too long before they can cheer him on as well.

Jane McManus is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow her on Twitter.

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Jane McManus has covered New York sports since 1998 and began covering football just before Brett Favre's stint with the Jets. Her work has appeared in Newsday, USA Today, The Journal News and The New York Times. Follow Jane on Twitter.

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