One way Victor Cruz is able to put perspective on the arc of his career is to look at his role in preseason openers.
"It's changed drastically to go from a guy who gets in in the second half and is trying to get as many reps as possible to a guy that will probably only get 15 to 20 snaps on Sunday," the wide receiver said on Friday. "It's definitely changed a lot."
Cruz made his first NFL splash in the 2010 preseason opener against the Jets when he scored three touchdowns. Last year, after a contract issue that resulted in his signing a long-term deal with the team, he caught a 57-yard touchdown against the Steelers in his first game as a millionaire. What awaits him on Sunday?
The only thing certain is a short night of work.
"It's something that I've been working my whole life for and I want to continue to work hard to stay at this position and stay in this area of expertise that I'm in right now and continue to be a consistent player and do all those things," he said of being among the starters and those not fighting for a roster spot.
That's not to say Cruz will be taking things easy. He missed the final three games of the 2013 season, so he said he's looking forward to returning to the field and maybe even providing some typical preseason opener fireworks.
"Get that football feeling back," he said of what he wants to accomplish against the Bills. "I haven't played a game in a while so I want to get back to playing football again, getting hit again, getting used to that contact again. I'm ready for it."