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Giants Receivers Give Hope In The Absence Of Cruz And Nicks

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Despite the absence of Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, the Giants have reason to be optimistic about their wide receivers. Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images.
Despite the absence of Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, the Giants have reason to be optimistic about their wide receivers. Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images.

There's been a lot of talk around the Giants camp this past week about the wide receivers. More specifically, the absence of their two star wide receivers from the team's voluntary OTAs. While Victor Cruz was not expected to attend the OTAs as he continues to work with the Giants to negotiate a contract extension, we've been told that Hakeem Nicks was expected to attend and that his absence thus far has irritated the easily irritable Tom Coughlin.

However, on Tuesday morning, Mike Florio from Pro Football Talk appeared on WFAN's Boomer and Carton Show and reported that the Giants apparently were aware that Nicks would not be attending the OTAs and that he would be resting and preparing for the season at his own speed, despite all previous reports claiming that the Giants were surprised by his absence.

Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that the Giants have begun OTAs without their top two playmakers at the wide receiver position. What's good news for Giants fans is the fact that the rest of the team's receivers have been picking up the slack and impressing a lot of people. Receivers like Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan and Louis Murphy have been using their valuable field time to build a rapport with Eli Manning, and so far, the team likes what they've been seeing from the rest of the receiving corps, which has to be a good sign heading into the 2013 season.

Randle has a solid chance to become the team's third receiver and fill the role previously held by Mario Manningham. The third wide receiver spot has been an important one for the Giants throughout most of their success during the last decade, and players like Steve Smith and Manningham used the role to help the Giants through two memorable playoff runs by proving to be a vital part of the offense. With the added field time given to players like Randle during OTAs, the chance to step up into this role is there for the taking, and so far, he has been delivering on the flashes of potential he showed late last season.

In addition to Randle's success in OTAs thus far, Murphy and Jernigan have also impressed Coughlin this past week by making some standout plays and using their reps with Manning and the first-team offense to prove that they, too, can be an important part of the passing game this season. The speed and athleticism of both Murphy and Jernigan has been on display before — Murphy, during his time in Oakland and Jernigan mostly on special teams — and the Giants are hoping that they'll be two more weapons for Manning to have at his disposal once the season gets underway.

For a team that has relied on their staunch defense and relentless running game for most of their storied history, the Giants have only recently become a pass-heavy offense under Manning, and the wide receiver position is now more important than ever before for the team. Stellar wide receiver play from Cruz and Nicks carried the team to their last Super Bowl title, and the offense is now built around the passing game with the run being a supplemental aspect. That's why it's so important for the Giants' full cast of wide receivers, including Randle, Jernigan and Murphy, to be able to contribute and bring something to the table week in and week out.

For the time being, the Giants will work on developing these young receivers and incorporating them into the offense gradually, while Cruz and his agents work with the Giants on a new contract and Nicks works on being 100 percent healthy for the start of the season. Even without Cruz and Nicks on the field for OTAs, there's still some good news this week from his camp.