Victor Cruz can't play for the Giants anymore this season, but he still has duties to perform as one of the team's captains. So when the players gather in a Dallas-area hotel Saturday night for their pregame meeting, they'll see and hear a short pep talk from the guy who was last seen being carted off the field in tears.
Cruz said he and Ed Triggs of the team's video production department produced a short video of his speech.
"I haven't spoken to them as a group, but I will in kind of a special way on Saturday night," Cruz said on a conference call Friday, his first public comments since tearing the patellar tendon in his right knee Sunday against the Eagles. "They don't know it yet, but they'll be getting a message from me on Saturday night about motivation and staying strong and continuing to move forward with this season and the things they have to do as a team. Still accomplishing team goals even with some setbacks.
"They'll take it and understand," Cruz continued. "I think it's going to be good for them. It was good for me to get it off my chest. I think it's going to be good for them to receive it and I think they'll get a positive message."
Several Giants, including Antrel Rolle and Odell Beckham Jr., have spoken about the difficulties of moving on emotionally from what they witnessed Sunday. Cruz said he has stopped by the team's facility a few times since his surgery and release from the hospital.
"I've spoken to a lot of them to show them that I'm smiling,'' he said, "show them that I'm in good spirits and continuing to be the same person I am, even though I'm fighting through this rehab period right now."
In the particular case of Beckham, Cruz said he has made a special effort to stay in touch with the rookie who now replaces him in the lineup.
"I'm still here," he said of his message to Beckham. "I'm that guy who continues to be on his side and continues to be someone he can look up to and someone he can talk to. I'm still there for him every day."
Cruz not only is keeping his duties as a Giants captain but his responsibilities in the community. On Oct. 25, he will host a sports and science fair in Manhattan called HalloweenLand. Proceeds collected from ticket sales will benefit after-school science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs at two Boys and Girls Clubs in the tri-state area.
He said he contemplated canceling the event. "You want to give back even when you're down in the dumps and things aren't going in your direction," he said. "That's the biggest message."
It's a similar one he is delivering to the team. Cruz said he spoke with coach Tom Coughlin about maintaining contact with the team, and although they did not come up with specifics, Cruz is adamant about remaining a leader.
"[I want to] continue to be a voice in the locker room with my peers, with my teammates, and continue to be a good teammate even though I'm not physically out there on the field," he said. "I still want to be able to talk to those guys and make sure I continue to be a voice as we head in the right direction."
Cruz said he's been "humbled" and "overwhelmed" by the outpouring of support since the injury. Some teammates have told him they will celebrate touchdowns with his signature salsa dance. Even Eagles coach Chip Kelly visited him Monday morning in the Philadelphia-area hospital where he spent the night.
As for the injury itself, Cruz said he has "no doubt" he will return to form from what he called a "tedious" rehab. He'll be in a brace for about six weeks, then will rehab for another four to eight months. He said there was no other damage to his knee.
"I went into my route and I turned to locate the ball, and as soon as I went to make a play on the ball, before I even jumped, I just felt it pop," he said. "I felt something popped in my knee.
"Not even knowing where the ball was, I barely went up and I immediately grabbed for my knee on the way down. I felt a pop, which is something I'd never felt before in my life, and I knew something was wrong and I immediately went down and grabbed it."
Unlike most football fans, Cruz has not yet watched the replay of the injury.
"Even the snapshots look pretty disturbing, so I don't know if I ever want to see the actual play," he said.
Clearly, he'd rather spend time making new videos for the team than watching old ones of himself.
Notes & quotes: Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is listed as questionable with back and hamstring injuries for Sunday's game in Dallas. When Coughlin was asked about Rodgers-Cromartie's availability, he said: "We'll see." Rodgers-Cromartie's first involvement in practice all week was limited. Linebacker Spencer Paysinger (hamstring) also is questionable. Linebacker Jon Beason (toe) and punter Steve Weatherford (ankle) are probable and running back Rashad Jennings (knee) is out.
With John Jeansonne