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Victor Cruz returns to Giants practice, and Odell Beckham Jr. is happy about it

Victor Cruz of the Giants carriers the ball

Victor Cruz of the Giants carriers the ball during Giants practice at the Timex Performance Center East Rutherford, NJ Tuesday August 23, 2016 Credit: George McNish

You’ve probably seen the videos online. A mopey dog is lying around, unenthused and uninspired, until its long-lost master returns from college or vacation or an overseas deployment, whatever the case may be. Suddenly the pooch is a puppy again, jumping up and down, tail wagging furiously, a bundle of energy and euphoria.

That’s a bit what Odell Beckham Jr. looked like at Giants practice on Tuesday.

The star receiver was at his hyperkinetic height throughout the workout, dancing vigorously during short breaks, handing out high-fives to teammates by the dozen and smiling at everyone. Like those joyful pups, Beckham was reunited with his best friend.

Victor Cruz participated in his first full practice since he injured his groin on Aug. 9, and while the entire organization was undoubtedly happy and relieved to see it happen, Beckham clearly was the most tickled by the return.

“It feels good,” Beckham said. “It feels right.”

And more importantly, it looked great.

Cruz participated fully in the practice and looked faster, quicker and sharper than he did before the groin injury slowed his progress this summer. He caught seven passes in team drills, was able to juke cornerback Bennett Jackson with a shifty move off the line, and looked strong fielding passes and turning up the field.

It was the best he has looked since October 2014, before he tore his patellar tendon, and after almost two weeks of patience and bad news and fretting over whether Cruz would ever again play for the Giants or anyone else for that matter, “The Return” looked to be back on track.

So, too, did the Giants’ main receiving threats. Besides Cruz and Beckham, the offense also had rookie Sterling Shepard on the field.

“It’s always fun when you’re out there with your brothers and you see somebody else having fun, you see somebody else who came to work and they have a smile on their face,” Beckham said. “It makes it 10 times easier for the next guy whether it’s to make a play or just be enthused about practice.”

Or scare opposing defenses.

“It’s going to be great to have all these guys out here,” Beckham said. “It’s going to make it tough for teams to really gameplan. You’re going to have to pick your poison.”

Beckham said the play that stood out for him on Tuesday was when he ran a deep route and looked back expecting to have the ball thrown in his direction. Instead it went to Cruz, who was in the slot and ran a crossing route.

“I saw him catch it, turn up field and burst,” Beckham said. “It’s great to see Victor back out there. He’s been through quite a lot.”

The next step is to get him through the week healthy and onto the field Saturday against the Jets in what everyone hopes will be his first game action in almost two full years.

“It’s important,” Ben McAdoo said of Cruz’s participating in a preseason contest. “It’s the game and that’s what he’s looking forward to and that’s what we’re looking forward to seeing him do.”

That was part of the reason the Giants had Cruz suit up and go through warmups in Buffalo on Saturday. He didn’t play in the game, but it was a way to get him involved with his teammates and make him feel a part of the journey. Asked if that gesture helped Cruz’s psyche, McAdoo said: “I hope so.”

Not everyone thinks Cruz needs to play in the preseason.

“The biggest thing is September 11th, September 11th,” Beckham said, referring to the regular-season opener in Dallas. “I know he would love to get some preseason in, it’s been a few minutes since he’s played, but in my opinion he looked great . . . In my mind I’m definitely looking forward and I think Vic will be ready come September 11th.”

For the first time in a few minutes, it feels like that’s a possibility.


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