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Whew! Giants catch a big break as Victor Cruz seems OK after scare against Colts

Victor Cruz #80 of the Giants looks for

Victor Cruz #80 of the Giants looks for the ball against Greg Toler #28 of the Indianapolis Colts early in their game at MetLife Stadium. (Aug. 18, 2013) Credit: Jim McIsaac

In a preseason already filled with roster-jarring injuries, the fear-the-worst reaction from Giants fans was completely understandable.

Victor Cruz lasted only a few plays before leaving Sunday night's 20-12 preseason loss to the Colts for X-rays of his left foot, and the uncertainty and anxiety were palpable.

After season-ending injuries suffered by Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller, Packers left tackle Bryan Bulaga and Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, there was no telling if Cruz would be added to the list.

For now, it looks as though he won't be. But check back after Cruz -- who left MetLife Stadium before the game ended and was unavailable for interviews -- gets a follow-up examination on his bruised heel before you officially keep him off the casualty list. He is expected to get an MRI Monday to make sure there is no significant damage.

"He's obviously got an issue with his heel, and hopefully it's not going to be a long thing," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said after the game. "He runs to make his living and obviously has an issue with his heel."

Eli Manning seemed even less concerned about Cruz's status than Coughlin was. "I saw him back on the sideline fairly quickly, so that's usually good news," Manning said. "Hopefully it's not very serious and he can bounce back quickly. Usually when they come back to the sideline that quickly, it's better news rather than bad news."

The Giants surely hope the news is good. After all, Cruz has been an integral part of the Giants' offense since making the roster as an undrafted free agent in 2010 thanks to his impressive work in the preseason, especially a three-touchdown game against the Jets. He was a major factor in the Super Bowl run in 2011, with a his 99-yard touchdown catch against the Jets sparking a late-season surge that helped carry the Giants all the way to the title.

He was their most dependable receiver again last year, even if he alone couldn't propel the Giants to the playoffs. Cruz led the Giants with 1,092 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, playing much of the season against double-coverage because of Hakeem Nicks' frequent injury-related absences.

The Giants rewarded Cruz with a six-year contract extension worth nearly $46 million in July after an occasionally contentious negotiation that dated to last season. And although he missed the offseason conditioning program, Cruz's re-entry to the offense was seamless.

In last week's preseason opener against the Steelers, Cruz and Manning hooked up for a 57-yard touchdown pass as Cruz outfoxed veteran safety Troy Polamalu and raced down the middle of the field for a TD.

It was another deep pass down the middle Sunday night that resulted in the Giants' concern about Cruz's foot. The ball fell incomplete, but the Colts were called for pass interference. Nothing really seemed amiss after the play, but Cruz went to the sideline, reported soreness in the foot and headed to the locker room for X-rays.

Nicks, meanwhile, had returned to the lineup after missing last week's game with a groin strain. Seeing Nicks and Cruz back in the starting rotation surely was good news for Manning. He has one of the best receiving tandems in the NFL when both players are healthy.

"It felt great to be back out there,'' Nicks said after getting through the first half uninjured and catching two passes for 40 yards. "My body felt good and it's just great to be back on the field with my team.''

But it lasted only a few minutes before Cruz headed for the locker room. In a sport in which the result of X-rays often can be the X-factor in what lies ahead for the upcoming season, the wait was agonizingly long.

New York Sports