The Giants never will get those two recent losses back, but they appear to be on the verge of getting two of their impact players on the field for the first time in 2015.
Victor Cruz ran on grass Tuesday for the first time since injuring his calf Aug. 19, raising hope that he'll be ready to make his debut in Week 4 against the Bills on Oct. 4. And defensive captain Jon Beason was a full participant in practice, a sign that he'll likely be on the field Thursday night when the Giants host Washington.
"I'm just looking for the nod, that's it," Beason said of anticipating a green light.
While Beason's return is more imminent, it is Cruz's that likely will lift the team's sullen spirit the most. Cruz's absence has been obvious -- hardly any receivers other than Odell Beckham Jr. have stepped up -- and his rehab from a torn patellar tendon suffered last October was an inspiration to many in training camp.
That was before the calf injury sidelined him for a month and he disappeared.
Tuesday, what he has called "The Return" made its own comeback.
Cruz walked onto the practice field casually and joined Beckham in drills catching footballs off a passing machine. Teammates happy to see Cruz jokingly reintroduced themselves. Then it was time to get to work.
He wore a helmet, shoulder pads and a jersey and stretched with the team at the beginning of practice. After that he moved to an adjacent field, where he worked with a trainer on running. It was mostly half-speed and included some cutting and movement, but it was significant in being his first activities on dry land (he'd been running on an underwater treadmill for several weeks).
After that, though, Cruz cranked it up with some agility drills that included running in circles and speed footwork. He appeared to be doing that at full speed with little problem.
"I'm closer," Cruz said. "There's no pain in there anymore, so it's just a matter of getting the confidence back to running on it and cutting on it, things like that. And then we'll go from there."
It seems the only thing holding Cruz back from a return this week is the schedule. The Giants play tomorrow night, and with just one day of practice -- in which Cruz was listed as a nonparticipant -- he'll almost assuredly be sidelined against Washington.
Would he be ready to play if this game was on Sunday?
"Potentially," he said. "You never know what could happen, you always just want to go out there and perform, make sure you're good to go for whatever week is upcoming. Obviously, the short week leaves you a little handicapped, if you will. But we'll see. We'll see how it continues to progress, how I feel in the morning, and we'll go from there."
Cruz did say he would petition Tom Coughlin to play against Washington, but even he admitted that probably won't happen.
"If you know coach Coughlin, it's going to take a lot," he said. "So we'll see. I'm going to keep continuing to put the work in myself, and we'll see where this takes me. But with T.C., it gets tough."
Both Cruz and Beason said it's been difficult watching the Giants struggle early while they have been unable to help. But that last part seems as if it is about to change, and both agreed it's been the best move.
"I've been patient for about 11 months now," Cruz said of waiting to get back into a game. "It's been hard, man, but you know you've got to stay the course. You're not going to do the team any good if you're out there at 60, 70 percent. You want to go out there 100 percent, being able to help this team win at the top of your ability, at the best of your ability, and that's what I want to do."
Said Beason: "In years past, I would risk it all for one play. You play in one game and you end up missing a lot more. It was probably the smartest thing to do, maybe give something back early to gain a lot in the end."
The Giants hope the gains are worth the wait.