Victor Cruz told ESPN Radio in New York that he woke up on Wednesday and “felt good,” adding that he expects to return to practice quickly.
“I anticipate being out there in a few days and getting after it again,” he said.
That could be as soon as this weekend, depending on how he continues to improve. The Giants had their last full practice before their preseason opener on Wednesday — Cruz was a non-participant — and won’t practice again until Sunday. That would be the first opportunity for Cruz to return to the field since he skipped the second half of Tuesday’s workout with tightness in his groin.
As he walked past reporters after the radio interview he noted he was feeling “better” and gave a quick thumbs up.
Cruz maintained what he said on Tuesday, that it is a minor injury and nothing to be alarmed about. After missing almost two full seasons with knee and calf injuries, he wanted to be smart and took himself out of that practice.
“I don’t want to do anything stupid at this point,” he said in the radio interview. “I’ve come such a long way.”
The Giants have noticed. Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said before the groin issue Cruz was improving.
“Victor was coming along quite well,” Sullivan said on Wednesday. “He was getting a sense of the timing and rhythm and he moved around in multiple positions at the receiver position . . . I think we saw him getting more and more comfortable and getting that chemistry back with Eli [Manning] and getting a sense of where we want him to move around the formations and so from an assignment standpoint, he was on track.”
Odell Beckham Jr. said it was hard to tell there was anything wrong with Cruz when the two spoke.
“I don’t think he needs to be pumped up,” Beckham said. “I know he wants to be out there. I honestly didn’t think anything was bad after we talked so I’m just excited for him to be able to get out there and play.”
Beckham said he has advised Cruz not to rush back and risk further injury — as may have happened with his calf injury last summer — just because there are preseason games being played.
“I keep reminding him that his first game is September 11, even though you have to get your feet wet in the preseason,” Beckham said. “I hate saying that, but [the preseason is] irrelevant. You could go for 200 yards and none of it is going to matter. You could go for zero yards and none of it is going to matter. All that matters is that you’re prepared for Week 1.”
In Cruz’s case, though, after such a long time between games, that might not be entirely true. And with a group of young receivers barking for his job, Cruz likely has to show the Giants he can play in real game conditions at some point before the season . . . even if it does come in an irrelevant game.
“The good news is there was progress being made,” Sullivan said of Cruz’s training camp so far. “It’s just a matter of hopefully how soon we can get him back with that motive of trying to get better.”