Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz has become a phenomenon for fans, with his flashy play and his easy-to-chant surname.
But hearing that cheer after plays in walk-throughs caught the attention of Giants defenders, and has created some friendly competition in practice.
“They were doing quarterback-receiver drills. On air. With no defense,” linebacker Chase Blackborn said, via Mike Garafolo of the Newark Star-Ledger. “And every time he caught a ball, the fans chanted. I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ”
So after a Corey Webster interception later on when there were actual defensive players on the field, safety Antrel Rolle was heard yelling “Salsa that!”
“I heard him. ‘Trel always has some funny things to say, he’s always talking,” Cruz said with a laugh. “It’s always fun, though. Going back in the locker room, we talk it up about what happened in the previous practice.
“But it’s cool. We’re just out there competing, getting the best out of each other, getting better every day.”
For the Giants defense, stopping the big-play threat is good preparation for opponents, so any day spent without hearing “Cruuuuuuuuz,” is a good day.
“I don’t care what anyone says, training camp is not a fun time for anyone, so you look for anything to get you over the edge,” Rolle said. “It’s a way for you to get better and also to test your mind and your levels of strength in different areas.
“Anything to get you over the hump, just to make the day go by a little bit faster and make things a little more competitive and add a little more excitement, that’s what we do.”
Of course, having his teammates focused on stopping him in practice is good prep work for the increased doubles he’ll see come the regular season, so the attention is a win-win.
And as Rolle said, this is the point in camp which becomes drudgery, and anything to lighten the mood is only going to help keep players focused.