Victor Cruz has had some of the most memorable moments of his career against the Jets, including his three-touchdown breakout in the 2010 preseason and his 99-yard touchdown the following year. So it stood to reason that he was excited about the possibility of making his return to game action against the Giants' MetLife-partners Saturday.
After the grueling ordeal of rehabbing for almost 11 months, what better way to kick-start his rebirth as a football player than to do it against the team that put him on the map in the first place?
But Cruz smiled when asked about how tough it will be if he is unable to play Saturday because of the calf injury that has lingered for more than a week.
"Not too difficult," he said. "Not too difficult."
While the Giants come to grips with the idea that Cruz might not be able to participate in any preseason games this summer, they remain focused on the ultimate goal of having him ready for the Sept. 13 opener against the Cowboys. Cruz is still listed as day-to-day, but really, that's the only day that matters.
"It's great, but if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen," Tom Coughlin said of Cruz playing in a preseason game. "Odell [Beckham Jr.] didn't have a preseason game last year. You want him to play, that's what the plan was. If it doesn't work out that way, then what's the next thing? You can't worry about something that right now is not within our control."
Cruz has yet to be ruled out of anything. He might play Saturday, and Coughlin said he will keep the door open for him to participate in next week's preseason finale against the Patriots. Cruz said his calf is feeling better and he still feels as if he is on track for the opener in Dallas.
"Obviously, I want to be out there with my team, be out there battling, and obviously helping them reps-wise and getting a victory," Cruz said. "Other than that, it's about maintaining your health, maintaining what you want to accomplish as a goal from a team perspective, and that's being ready for Week 1 when everything matters, everything counts, and we're out there helping our team win."
The Giants did get one of their injured receivers back Tuesday. Rueben Randle, sidelined for two weeks with knee tendinitis, returned to practice and participated in individual and team drills. He looked rusty, but he made it through the workout. Beckham practiced as he has for most of training camp and caught several passes from Eli Manning as they work on the timing that has eluded them in games.
That leaves Cruz as the last part of the receiver troika the Giants are counting on. He said he still has some inflammation in the calf that trainers want to eliminate before he comes back to work. After that, Coughlin said he'll have to show he can practice several days in a row without a setback before he takes the field for a meaningless preseason game.
"I'm concerned, yeah," Coughlin said of Cruz. "I would like to see him get out there and be able to stay out there. That's what our real intent is. As soon as that can be done, that's what will happen."
And if it doesn't coincide with the preseason schedule? Oh well.