Victor Cruz won't practice this week. The training staff has told him he isn't even allowed to jog. And, as of Monday, he can't guarantee that he'll be on the field when the Giants take on the Cowboys in Week 1.

So much for a small setback.

Though Cruz said he's still hopeful that he'll be on a practice field for the first week of the season, optimism was somewhat tempered Monday. What was supposed to be a minor injury to his left calf -- minor, especially compared with the knee surgery last October -- is proving to be something of a stumbling block for the 28-year-old wide receiver. Inflammation has gone down, he said, but he and the training staff are going day by day.

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Except, of course, for this entire week, when coach Tom Coughlin said he won't be practicing.

"Nothing has been set in stone in terms of playing that first week or not playing that first week," Cruz said before players took the field at the Giants' training facility. "I'm still excited for Week 1; that's still the goal, that's still the plan, in my opinion. Obviously, the training staff will advise if they see differently as the next week and a half comes along. But we'll see. So I'm just taking it one day at a time and making sure that I'm ready to go."

Cruz, who tore his patellar tendon against the Eagles on Oct. 12, was set to play his first preseason game (the Giants' second) against the Jaguars before injuring the calf. Before hurting himself last year, he played in six games, with 337 yards and a touchdown on 23 catches.

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Now the questions are mounting. Specifically: 1. Whether Cruz will be able to get any practice time before the regular season; 2. Whether Coughlin, known to put a premium on practice, will let him get into the Week 1 game without practicing; 3. Whether Cruz will be able to get into any sort of groove once he's in a game. And of course, 4. How serious is this minor injury, anyway?

"Calves are tricky," Cruz said. "Once they feel healed and once they feel OK, you can go out there and mess it up again. So you want to make sure that it's fully healed and fully recovered once you step back out there on the field."

Caution is a key, he said, and that's especially true now that the Giants have a little bit of time for it. The inflammation, Cruz said, "has gone down substantially."

"Coming off a major knee surgery -- something that comes off of that, any injury after that -- you want to be careful, you want to be cautious with it," he said. "I think that's what we're doing. We just want to make sure that it's really back to 100 percent and strong and able to cut, and all those things before we try it out on the field."

Cruz has been able to talk to Eli Manning a bit, he said, and the duo's long history would indicate that it won't be too difficult to regain his timing.

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"I know all the things that I've done since I started playing football: catching the ball, running routes, and all of those things like that. So I still think I'm right there," Cruz said.

He's able to jog, Cruz noted; he's just not allowed to. If he can practice the week leading up to Sept. 13, he thinks he'll be set.

"I know how coach Coughlin loves his guys that practice; if you don't practice, you don't play," he said. "I think I'll be ready to go.

"Just a small setback."