Victor Cruz chuckled at the heaviest question.
After a long list of queries about the progress of his rehab, the evolution of the Giants' offense, the development of rookie sensation Odell Beckham Jr. on and off the field, and even about his salsa dancing, the hammer came down.
After ending two straight years on injured reserve, will he be able to return to the same level of play? Very often when players do get injured -- especially twice -- the effects become cumulative.
"You're gonna be the doubt guy right now?" Cruz said with a grin to the reporter who was trying to Scrooge his mood. "No, there's no doubt in my mind that I'll return to form and I'll return to the type of player that I was in years past. I'm excited to put myself through this. I've overcome a lot of obstacles and I feel like this is another one that I've come across that I have to conquer and move forward . . . There isn't a doubt in my mind that I'll be back playing and playing like myself again."
Cruz spoke on Wednesday, his first in-person session with the media since he tore his patellar tendon in an Oct. 12 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Ten weeks removed from surgery, he said he is able to walk on a treadmill and an elliptical machine, do some trampoline work and get some work done in the weight room with leg extensions and pulls.
"All the fun stuff," he said. "I'm pretty much fully mobile, but just not running yet."
Cruz said in talking to those who have had similar surgeries -- including teammates Zack Bowman and Marcus Harris -- he should be able to begin running six months after surgery. That would put him in mid-April, just as the team is regrouping for the offseason workouts. Cruz doesn't have a goal, he said, but he'd like to be back on the field with the team for the start of training camp.
Cruz's injury is a big reason the Giants' season tanked. They were 3-2 before his injury, then lost seven straight. Tom Coughlin said he doesn't give much thought to what the Giants could have been had Cruz remained healthy, but he got a little emotional reflecting on what they lost without him.
"You can imagine," he said when asked to quantify the vacuum. "A leader, a captain, a guy who has been through it, a guy who has won a Super Bowl all of a sudden is no longer part of the meeting room with a lot of young people. But again, there really isn't a whole lot to contemplate there. The unfortunate thing is that he was injured and that ended Victor's season."
What the Giants can contemplate is the future, with receivers Cruz and Beckham on the field together. It's something that Cruz said he has considered while watching Beckham.
"It's gonna be a lot of fun," Cruz said. "I don't want to get into next year and start promising things, but when I come back at my peak health and I'm 100 percent again and everything is clicking the way it should be and the receiving corps and Eli is all on the same page, it should be a fun offense to watch. I'm excited for the opportunity."
So excited, in fact, that it's actually helping with the rehab.
Said Cruz, "Seeing the things [Beckham's] doing out there has motivated me to come back and be able to play next to him and do some really good things next year."