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Victor Cruz likely to start opener, Jason Pierre-Paul less certain

Victor Cruz #80 of the Giants celebrates during

Victor Cruz #80 of the Giants celebrates during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium. (Aug. 18, 2013) Credit: Mike Stobe

On the first day of practice after the Giants' roster was set, the biggest news came from a couple of cuts.

Victor Cruz cuts left. Victor Cruz cuts right. Giants fans (and Eli Manning) can exhale.

Let's cut to the chase. Victor Cruz looks likely to start the season opener Sunday night in Dallas.

"As of right now, if everything continues to feel good in the morning and doesn't swell up on me or anything crazy, I'll be good to go," Cruz said of his apparently healed left heel, which he injured Aug. 18.

Reading the tea leaves, the injury news wasn't quite as positive regarding Jason Pierre-Paul. The defensive end practiced with abandon, according to coach Tom Coughlin, but sounded less certain than Cruz that he'll be ready for the opener.

"I feel good, [but] we're not there,' said Pierre-Paul, who is recovering from June 4 back surgery. "Ran off tired. I was completely tired . . . I don't know . I'm going against one of the best players in the league, [Will] Beatty. He gets me good. It all depends if I can take on a double-team, if I'm ready for that. It's only been the first day, so we'll see how it goes. We have a whole week ahead of us."

On Pierre-Paul, Coughlin said: "He practiced pretty well. We'll see. They obviously have a ways to go there. He's got to practice. Practice every day. Put the uniform on. Play in the pads. See how he feels the next morning. Those are the things that he has to go through. [Conditioning] is one of the things we tried to work with today, and I think his bursts were good. Now how many of them? I can't tell you that, but in a short practice like that, it was well-spirited and he matched up well. He did what I was worried he would do: There's no pads on and he's coming like he's got them on. So that's a good sign."

Cruz and Pierre-Paul both playing -- and playing well -- would be a boon for the Giants. Manning in particular sounded, well, excited when asked about Cruz.

"It's good to have all your weapons out there and one of your top receivers," he said. "It's good to get him back running around and I'm excited that he will be back for this opening game . . . Sunday night, start the season vs. Dallas. You know, it's hard not to be excited about it."

It would be Cruz's first game since signing a six-year, $45.879-million contract extension in July. Even when he was on crutches and wearing a boot, it seemed likely he would start the opener.

"I'm a little ahead," he said. "They were predicting a couple more weeks, but I was diligent in the treatment room and at home, doing the things I needed to do. Icing it and getting ready and things like that. I'm pretty much ahead of schedule and I'm happy about that. My main concern was those hard-breaking routes, curls and really digging my foot into the ground. I ran a couple of those and it didn't feel bad at all and it felt good to get out of them. Made a curl catch and got a little bit of a burst out of it, so it felt good."

Notes & quotes: FB Henry Hynoski (knee) practiced and is uncertain about Sunday . . . TE Adrian Robinson (foot) did not practice and is out indefinitely . . . The Giants completed their practice squad by signing DB Jawanza Starling.


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