Victor Cruz admits he has a lot of concern for the safety and integrity of the game if the replacement referees end up working games in the NFL regular season.
The New York Giants wide receiver had a close up look at the newbies during Friday night's 32-31 loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars and walked away with doubts they distinguished themselves.
Cruz said he was "a little bit concerned" especially since he heard one ref "had only ref-ed glorified high school games— which I don't even know what that means."
It sounds like Cruz better take a little spice out of his celebratory salsa the next time he scores.
"Sometimes you could see them being a little flustered at times, " Cruz said. "It's just tricky. It's obviously tough for them because they have to get adjusted on the fly to refereeing NFL games. It's by far a tough job for them. But we just want to make sure that, as players, we're protected as well."
The Giants have lots of reasons to be concerned about the new referees if their last game was any indication. There was a few awkward moments on Friday night including a missed TV timeout and some obvious muffed calls.
"Like when they called a holding call on the returner when he was returning the punt. That was probably the most mind-boggling one to me," said Cruz. "We just want to make sure we get the refs back out there making the right calls."
If anyone knows about being thrust into the limelight in a crunch, it's Cruz. The unheralded walk-on— and, at the time, No. 4 on the Giants receiving chart— made a splash in his second season as a replacement. After overcoming his own growing pains (and injuries), he ended up having a pretty good season in 2011.
Still, will Cruz be happy to see the regular NFL officials return to the field?
"I think it's the first time that I'll be happy to see a ref that I've seen last year," joked Cruz. "I'm going to shake his hand and say 'Thank you for coming back,' we appreciate it."