Cruz has yet to sign his $2.879 million contract tender. Gilbride has nothing to do with the business end of things, and he's staying out of it.
"I'm certainly looking forward to (Cruz) being back, I don't want to give any impression contrary to that, but certainly I'm looking forward to what J.J. can do inside," Gilbride said, via the Giants' official website. "I think it's about time he steps up and we feel he has enough ability and he's been here long enough.
"Until Victor gets back he'll be the main guy inside at the slot position. It's a chance for him to shine and step forward and do the things that we believe he can do."
This is not the first time Gilbride has talked up Jernigan as a potential difference-maker for the Giants. Jernigan appeared in just nine games last season, finishing with three catches for 22 yards.
Don't expect Cruz to get Wally Pipp'd out of his job in the slot. Jernigan has failed to make an impact in his first two seasons. Any extra reps he might receive will provide the opportunity to show he still belongs.
Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.