With Cruz sidelined, Dwayne Harris emerging as No.3 receiver
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The New York Giants have found a receiver to play the slot with Victor Cruz out indefinitely with a calf injury.
Special teams star Dwayne Harris stepped into the role this past weekend, catching a career-high five passes in the Giants' 24-10 win over the Buffalo Bills.
''I was just open,'' Harris said Thursday after the Giants (2-2) practiced for Sunday night's game against the San Francisco 49ers. ''It's that simple. It was nothing about calling (my) number. You run routes, you get open and throw the ball.''
Harris was signed as a free agent in the offseason based mostly on his reputation as a coverage man on special teams and a good blocker when he lined up as a receiver. He had ability as a receiver, but not much experience.
He is getting it with Cruz out and the Giants' decision to release Preston Parker after a number of drops in the first two games.
Harris came into Sunday's game without any catches. He had three by the end of the first quarter, including a 21-yard touchdown pass.
Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said the game plan wasn't to get Harris the ball. It just worked out that way.
''Dwayne has been doing a nice job in practice and to be able to get him the catches on game day was good for him,'' McAdoo said.
''It's healthy for him, he came through for us, he had a nice day out here today for us, and as he grows more comfortable with the offense and the more his feet talk to him, the more productive he has a chance to be.''
It seems Harris will have the spot at least for a couple of more weeks.
Cruz says he is feeling better after getting a platelet-rich plasma injection a little more than a week ago after aggravating his calf injury. He plans to see the team doctor on Monday and remains day to day in terms of playing status.
''Every game is in my sights, to be honest,'' said Cruz, who has not played since sustaining a knee injury six games into last season. ''Every week I'm trying to gauge it and see how it feels and kind of take steps and wake up in the morning and do the old calf raise test in bed and stuff like that. We'll see how it goes.''
Cruz had hoped to play this past weekend, but aggravated the calf during individual drills on Sept. 30. Despite the disappointment, he feels he is close to playing.
The receiver also said he was going to play in the opening game of the season. He waits to play, constantly riding an emotional rollercoaster.
''I'm thoroughly convinced at some point throughout this year I'll be on that field playing at a high level and making some plays to help my team win,'' Cruz said.
Until that happens, Harris has the job in the slot with Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle on the outside.
''It feels good when are you targeted and especially when you can make plays,'' said Harris, who had more than 60 plays against the Bills and was targeted six times.
The positive for the Giants is that if Harris continues to make plays it will help Beckham and Randle, and even the running game. The more options for quarterback Eli Manning, the better.
NOTES: LB Jonathan Casillas did not practice Thursday because of a calf injury. With Devon Kennard battling a hamstring injury, it puts at major question mark at strong-side linebacker. Mark Herzlich played there last year and is available, but the Giants have all their linebackers train at all three positions. Defensive ends Robert Ayers (hamstring) and George Selvie (calf) did not practice along with Cruz. Cornerback Jayron Holsey (concussion) did not practice but he expects to play on Sunday. Fellow cornerback Trumaine McBride (groin) returned to practice but was limited.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL