To those who doubt he will ever play again, to those who believe he should just give up this latest attempt at a comeback, and to those who believe the Giants would be better off cutting their losses now rather than dragging the team through a potentially lengthy and distracting situation with no guarantee of a payoff at the end, Victor Cruz has a simple reply:
That’s what the wide receiver said with resolve on Wednesday when asked about the mounting mindset that he may never play again in a Giants uniform, nevermind in an NFL game. It didn’t help to defuse his skeptics when he did not practice on Wednesday after Ben McAdoo had said earlier in the week that the Giants were “hopeful” he would. Or that he will almost certainly miss the Giants’ second preseason game on Saturday in Buffalo because he has yet to run in any direction other than a straight line.
Or, for that matter, that he felt it was necessary to have a conversation with McAdoo on Sunday to tell the coach where his mind is at while he recovers from a sore groin that has kept him sidelined for over a week and has prompted the outside panic.
“It was a personal conversation but it was one I felt like I needed to have with him just to let him know where I was mentally,” Cruz said. He also noted that so much of his conversations are with trainers that he does not often get to communicate directly with McAdoo. “I wanted to personally talk to him about how I felt and the things that I felt in my mind and my heart about the past two years and what’s happening now. It was a good conversation between men.”
And where is he in that regard?
“I feel good,” he said. “Mentally I’m in a good space.”
Cruz has not played in a game since October 2014 when he tore his patellar tendon against the Eagles and missed the rest of the season. Last summer he tried to return from that injury but a torn calf muscle in training camp sidelined him for the entire 2015 season. This summer he was progressing toward full speed when the groin injury slowed his return.
The Giants tried to frame Cruz’s work with strength and conditioning coach Aaron Wellman on Wednesday as a positive. He ran in a straight line, stopping and going, and seemed to be at a brisker speed than he was when the Giants last practiced on Monday.
“He was able to do a little bit more today than he has,” McAdoo said. “He had a bounce-back day today. He’s out there running on the side and looked pretty good. Of course, you’d like to get him in team reps and individual, but we’ll progress that way.”
That progress is slower than anyone would like it to be. And the clock continues to tick down the time until the Giants need to make a decision on Cruz’s status for the upcoming season. There are only a half-dozen or so practices left before the team needs to trim its roster to 53 players for Week 1, and McAdoo said on Monday that the team has yet to see enough from Cruz on the field to fully evaluate him.
After this weekend, there will only be two preseason games left and McAdoo said for Cruz to participate in any of those “he has to make it through the week of practice and be cleared by the medical staff.”
Cruz admitted that his place on the roster has crossed his mind, especially as he watches younger, healthier receivers work on the field each day.
“I’m a normal human being, so I think about that stuff,” he said. “I just want to play. I’m not eyeing any snaps or whatever that number is. I’m not trying to eye any specific number. I just want to go out there and play and go out there and prove that I can play, that I can still play at a high level, that I can still play this game and go from there.”