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Victor Cruz’s comeback creates Giants optimism

New York Giants' Victor Cruz watches a game

New York Giants' Victor Cruz watches a game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Toronto Raptors at Barclays Center on Wednesday, April 13, 2016. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

When he was asked how Victor Cruz looks, Rashad Jennings needed a clarification.

“We talking about fashion? Or are we talking about on the field?” Jennings asked.

In the end, it didn’t really matter.

Said the running back, “He looks good in both.”

Those words may not mean much to a team and a fan base that already has sat through a full year of positive reports on Cruz’s progress only to never see him on the field in games. Cruz battled back from a torn patellar tendon last offseason and made it into training camp, but a calf injury derailed his comeback and he missed the entire 2015 schedule.

Now, as he attempts to return after what will be almost two full years away from game-condition football — his last activity that counted was on the fateful night of his knee injury, Oct. 12, 2014, in Philadelphia — the Giants again are optimistic about Cruz’s progress.

The difference is that unlike last year, this year they seem to be actually counting on his return.

“When training camp comes around, we’re hoping he’s full-go. We expect him to be full-go,” general manager Jerry Reese said Thursday. “He hasn’t played in two years, but he’s probably more healthy now than he’s probably been, obviously, in the last couple of years. What we get from Victor will be a bonus, and we’re hoping it’s a great bonus for us.”

Cruz has been participating with the team in the offseason training program that began last week.

“So far, so good,” Reese said. “Victor had been out there. I’m peeking out the window watching him run outside, it looks like he’s better . . . All of our doctors are pleased with his progress so far and we’re hoping that he’ll be the Victor that we know.”

The Giants might need him to be. Their wide receiver depth does not look as good on paper as it did a year ago, when the team was expecting big things from Rueben Randle.

Odell Beckham Jr. still is the headliner, but there is no clear wing man for him. Randle left in free agency without much pullback from the Giants. Dwayne Harris or second-year receiver Geremy Davis could evolve into that player. The Giants might wind up drafting that player next week. But it seems more and more likely that Cruz could fill the role . . . if he is able to play.

Cruz probably won’t be a full participant in next week’s voluntary minicamp.

“We’re going to take it easy with him, obviously, and make sure that he is ramped up a little bit at a time,” Reese said.

Just having him around, though, seems more promising than at any point in his long absence.

“It’s good to see Vic out smiling, running around with the team,” Jennings said. “He has high expectations for himself just as well as everybody else does. You see a hunger and a fight in his eyes. I’m excited.”

Notes & quotes: Reese said the Giants are open to trading up, trading down and staying put with the 10th overall pick in next week’s draft. Reese has never traded down in his tenure as GM of the Giants . . . Reese was asked about the team’s interest in sudden free-agent cornerback Josh Norman. “We investigate everything,” he said. Still, there seems little chance that the Giants will pursue Beckham’s much-publicized antagonist after making Janoris Jenkins the second-highest-paid corner in the league earlier this offseason . . . Newly signed defensive tackle Damon Harrison said he thinks the Giants have the ingredients to be a top-ranked defense. “We just have to put it all together,’’ he said, “and we will only be as good as we can be if we can work together.”

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