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Victor Cruz has knee surgery, will miss Giants' final two games

Victor Cruz is helped off the field during

Victor Cruz is helped off the field during the third quarter of a game against the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium. (Dec. 15, 2013) Credit: Jim McIsaac

The one offensive bright spot for the Giants in 2013 has been extinguished.

Victor Cruz, who leads the team with 73 receptions for 998 yards, underwent an arthroscopic debridement of his left knee Thursday after receiving a second opinion on the injured joint from Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla., according to the Giants. Andrews performed the procedure, which will end Cruz's season.

The good news is that Cruz's ligaments were undamaged and did not require a reconstruction. A debridement removes pieces of bone or, in Cruz's case, cartilage that has broken free in the area of the injury. The recovery time typically is three to four weeks, and players usually return during the season after this type of procedure.

In recent years, Giants such as Osi Umenyiora and Michael Boley have had knee debridements and returned to play effectively. But with the season ending for the Giants a week from Sunday, Cruz will not have time to make it back onto the field.

Cruz would have had a third straight season with more than 1,000 receiving yards, something only three other Giants have accomplished. The play on which he was hurt was ruled an 18-yard catch on the field. The play was challenged by the Seahawks, however, and declared an incompletion as Cruz limped to the Giants' sideline.

He also suffered a concussion on that play. The Giants announced that Cruz has been cleared of that injury in accordance with NFL protocols.

Cruz has not missed a game since he spent most of his rookie season on injured reserve with a hamstring issue. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said that with Cruz sidelined, Jerrel Jernigan will take his place as the slot receiver. Jernigan caught a career-high seven passes for 67 yards on Sunday. In three seasons with the Giants, he has 20 receptions for 181 yards.

"He's the one that most closely embodies the qualities you're looking for in the slot position, the quickness, the toughness," Gilbride said. "The things that come up each and every week are a little different and he hasn't been through them as much as Victor, but [you hope] he'll react and respond to the different coverages and disguises."

Second-year wideout Rueben Randle will start as an outside receiver opposite Hakeem Nicks.

The Giants are not expected to put Cruz on injured reserve because they do not have room under the salary cap to sign an additional player to the 53-man roster. Cruz and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) remain in active roster limbo with little to no chance of playing again this season.

Of the 11 projected offensive starters at the beginning of the season, Cruz is the fifth to have his year cut short by injury.

Three others who became starters also have been placed on injured reserve and backup running back Andre Brown spent the first half of the season on injured reserve with a designation to return.

Notes & quotes: Terrell Thomas, who has played nearly the full season after a third ACL reconstruction, is looking forward to his first "normal" offseason since 2011. "I'm looking forward to the offseason just to rest and be able to catch up and not have to rehab," he said. "I can actually get ahead and be able to work on football stuff and not just trying to get healthy enough to play football again.". . . Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said he could glean little from watching video of the Eagles' win over the Lions two weeks ago because it was too difficult to see what was going on through the snow . . . . . . Guard James Brewer returned to practice and guard David Diehl (knee) is expected to return Friday.

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