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Giants receiver Victor Cruz plays for first time since 2014

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Victor Cruz really didn’t care about his statistics after the Giants played the Jets in their annual preseason game.

The line for the 29-year-old wide receiver read: 32 plays, targeted on two passes, with one reception for 4 yards.

It was unproductive, yet Cruz could not help but smile after the Giants’ 21-20 win on Saturday night.

Cruz had played in a game for the first time since the 2014 season, and that’s all that mattered to the wideout who was one of the NFL’s most feared receivers from 2011-13. The knee injury that ended the ’14 season and a calf problem that sidelined him last year were things of the past.

Even the crowd at MetLife Stadium was into his return, chanting “Cruzzzz.”

“It was unreal,” Cruz said. “It kind of gave me goosebumps.”

Even though he felt rusty, Cruz was excited.

“It felt good to put that jersey on again and go out there with my teammates, from the warmup, the pregame, and then during the game to be in the position to make a play and be out there running routes against an opponent, it felt good,” Cruz said.

Cruz’s only catch came on a quick pass to the right from Eli Manning on the first play from scrimmage in the second half.

“That ball felt like it was forever in the air before it got to my hands, but it was good to kind of catch that ball and get a little contact, get a little hit out of bounds, and hopefully I can build on that,” Cruz said. “But it was definitely good to get one in.”

Cruz got a step on the secondary early in the second quarter, but Manning was under pressure and underthrew the receiver.

“I had to come, turn back inside and kind of go after the ball,” Cruz said. “Thought I had a shot until I saw (Marcus) Gilchrist come late, but I definitely had a step on the DB at the time. So I think if Eli was untouched I think we had a shot.”

The Jets treated Cruz with some respect. Cornerback Darrelle Revis lined up opposite him on several plays.

“I think he looks fine,” Revis said of Cruz. “I just think, especially with a major knee injury, your mind plays tricks on you because you’re scared to make a certain cut because you got injured. The injury’s always replaying back. I’m sure after he continues to strengthen it and keeps on getting stronger, he’ll be back to the old Victor Cruz that we always used to see.”

The Giants (1-2) finish the preseason at home Thursday night against New England. It’s a game that starters usually don’t play much, if at all.

Cruz, however, wants to play in what could be considered his final tuneup before the season opener at Dallas.

“Do I need to play? I think it’s just a matter of continuing to understand what we want to accomplish as a team and as a game plan and from a receiving corps,” Cruz said. “I think I can go out there Sept. 11 and be OK.”

Giants coach Ben McAdoo said it would have been nice to get Cruz the ball earlier in the game, but he felt the receiver looked comfortable and confident.

AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Sports Writer Dennis Waszak Jr. contributed to this report.

Texans free agent signings boost Super Bowl odds at Sportsbooks

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The Houston Texans made a splash in the NFL free agent market this week, inking quarterback Brock Osweiler and running back Lamar Miller to rich contracts. Those moves lifted their odds to win Super Bowl 51 to 20/1 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Houston opened the offseason at a distant 50/1 despite claiming the AFC South divisional crown with a 9-7 record last year, posting seven straight-up wins in their final nine outings, including a trio of defensive gems down the stretch in which they surrendered less than eight points per game.

However, the Texans ranked in the bottom half of the league in most offensive categories this past season, an issue the club hopes it has addressed with this week’s signings.

The New York Giants have also been rewarded at the sportsbooks following a busy start to the NFL free agent frenzy, climbing from 40/1 to 33/1 on the odds at the sportsbooks. It was a lost season for New York in 2015, as the club finished at a disappointing 6-10 while surrendering a league-worst 420.3 total yards per game.

The Giants took steps to shore up their woeful defense this week, adding lineman Damon Harrison, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, and defensive end Olivier Vernon, and re-signing DE Jason Pierre-Paul.

Both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans were active this week after once again producing losing seasons, but have yet to see any impact on their distant Super Bowl odds.

The Jaguars added DE Malik Johnson from the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos along with rusher Chris Ivory, who toiled for the New York Jets last season, but continue to lag in Super Bowl 51 betting with 66/1 odds.

The Titans have added center Ben Jones, receiver Rishard Matthews, and veteran pivot Matt Cassel, and re-signed tight end Craig Stevens, but have a number of defensive holes to fill, leaving them near the bottom of the NFL futures at 100/1 odds.

The top of the Super Bowl odds remains unchanged with the New England Patriots leading the way at 15/2.

Despite the current uncertainty surrounding who will be under center for the club next season, the Broncos maintain strong 10/1 odds, alongside the Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, and Arizona Cardinals, followed by the Dallas Cowboys, who join the Texans at 20/1, and the Cincinnati Bengals, deadlocked with the Minnesota Vikings at 22/1.

The Indianapolis Colts have dipped to 25/1 following Houston’s surge up the odds, while the Oakland Raiders have seen their Super Bowl line rocket to 33/1 after opening back at 66/1.

Retired Lynch filmed rapping on a camel

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Marshawn Lynch knows how to spend his time off: “ghost riding a camel.” Would you expect anything less from the infamous running back?

Lynch traveled to Egypt as part of an annual camp with American Football Without Barriers. AFWB was started by Breno Giacomini, Gary Barnidge, and Ahmed Awadallah with the goal to help disadvantaged youths by utilizing the game of football.

And even though they’re in Egypt on business the athletes know how to have some fun. Take a look at the video below, I promise Lynch rapping on top of a camel is every bit as hilarious as you picture it in your mind.