For the record, Carlos Rogers admires Victor Cruz and really likes Cruz's salsa-dance end-zone celebration. But he's not going to shy from doing his own salsa shuffle should the opportunity arise Sunday.
"I like the dance, actually," Rogers said today, five days before his rematch with Cruz and the Giants. "I really can't do it as good as him but. But if I make a play or get an interception on him in my mind, just do his dance."
Rogers' rendition following an interception in the teams' Nov. 13 meeting last year left a lasting impression on Cruz. He called it a "little disrespectful" before the Giants and 49ers met in the NFC Championship game. Then he wrote about it in the book that came out this summer, "Out of the Blue." Here's a passage:
"Then with his teammates cheering him on, he did a sarcastic salsa dance over me," Cruz wrote. "The Candlestick Park crowd went ballistic, but I wasn't laughing. It was a sign of disrespect. Instead of getting up and retaliating, though, I sat and watched Rogers finish his cheap Victor Cruz imitation. I promised to never forget it. I wasn't sure when the opportunity would present itself but I was confident I'd get payback for that dance."
Cruz was virtually unstoppable in the first half of the championship game, catching eight passes for 125 yards in that half alone. With more help from the safety, Rogers did better in the second half. Still, Cruz - working exclusively out of the slot - finished with 16 catches for 226 yards in the two games against the 49ers.
Cruz is a starter this season and figures to match up with both Rogers and Tarell Brown on the outside and with Rogers in the slot when the Giants go with three wide receivers.
"He's going to have something for me and vice versa," said Rogers, who is perhaps more familiar with the Giants offense than any other in the league because of his NFC East background.
"I'll be ready for him," he continued. "He's a great competitor, a great guy, especially in that slot. In that first half, he had catches and kind of went off on us. Luckily, he didn't get in the end zone. But his catches were big catches and made the ball move. The second half, I was like, 'Man, this man makes a move, whatever leverage he takes, I'm just going to go opposite.'"
-- Matt Barrows