The day after Victor Cruz had surgery to repair his torn patellar tendon last fall, he said he had no doubt he would return.
That may have been a lie.
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The wide receiver was putting an optimistic face on a comeback at the time, but in reality he had no idea what path was ahead of him. He didn't know how his body would react to the surgery. He didn't know if his mind would be able to handle the tedious recovery.
Now, though, he has a much more concrete idea.
"There is a moment after surgery, a couple of months after you got it and you are out of the crutches, out of the brace, and kind of moving around and you are thinking to yourself: 'Does this feel like you can do some of the things you once did?' " Cruz said Thursday at the Giants' voluntary offseason workouts.
"I felt like that was a yes. I felt like yes, the surgery went well and no ailments came on the latter part of it. I do feel like I can continue to be that same guy I was before.''
Even the Giants seem more convinced. General manager Jerry Reese toned down his concern about Cruz returning for 2015. He said Thursday that although there is no certainty regarding Cruz and he wants to be prepared "in case he's not here,'' he's starting to count on Cruz's presence.
It's still a long way until the Sept. 13 opener in Dallas. Cruz still is running only in a straight line, as he has been for about a month, but he said he is close to starting to cut. He almost certainly will be a bystander during OTAs and undoubtedly will be eased back onto the field in training camp. Still . . .
"As of right now, there is zero doubt in my mind I'll be out there for the first game and continue to be at 100 percent, playing at the level I like to be playing at,'' Cruz said.
He said the recovery process has taught him something important about himself.
"I didn't know exactly how much patience I have,'' he said. "Everybody likes to tell themselves that they are pretty patient, but in this day and age when you want information quickly and you want to do things fast and get instant results, I had to be pretty patient. I was forced to be.''
"Now I'm at a place in the rehabilitation process where I want to push it, I want to go faster, I want to start cutting,'' he said. "But I have to be patient and I have to understand it's going to take time and it takes discipline. Just take it one day at a time.''
Notes & quotes: Cruz joked about the hype regarding the pairing of him and Odell Beckham Jr. for 2015. "If I get another question out on the streets about how excited everybody is about myself and Odell, I might just jump off a building,'' he said . . . Asked how much better he can be than he was in his record-setting Rookie of the Year season, Beckham said: "I guess we'll have to wait and see.'' He said he does not have any specific goals for 2015. "It's just a mind-set I have to be better than the guy in front of me,'' he said . . . Tackle Justin Pugh said he would not mind switching positions, a departure from his stance at the end of last season. He even suggested that the Giants should draft Iowa OL Brandon Scherff . . . OL Geoff Schwartz said he feels as if he has something to prove in his second year as a Giant. "I signed that deal and I played barely five quarters,'' he said, adding that he is progressing in his rehab.