Victor Cruz watched Thursday's preseason game between the Jets and Colts and it was the first time he saw his old teammate and close friend Hakeem Nicks playing in anything other than a Giants uniform.
"It's not the same," Cruz said.
On Saturday, Cruz and the Giants will be in Indianapolis for a preseason game against the Colts and they'll be able to see Nicks wearing his new hue in person.
"It's gonna be weird, man," Cruz said. "But he's healthy from what I hear, he's in the best shape of his life from what I hear and what I see, and I'm going to shoot him a text and talk a little bit of junk to him too while I'm at it."
Nicks left the Giants after a disappointing season in which he did not catch any touchdowns and did not show the same explosiveness he had early in his career when he was a first-round pick. He still has caught more passes from Eli Manning in the NFL than any other player, although it's a record Cruz may wind up surpassing thanks in part to his long-term deal with the Giants. Nicks never got that contract and had to settle for a one-year deal with the Colts.
Cruz said last season was difficult for Nicks, not only because his production faltered but because many saw him as distracted on the field and the impression was that he did not give full effort all the time.
"He's a competitor and he wants to be able to play and do all those things, play at a high level, and you can see at certain times throughout the game he just didn't feel like he was himself whether it was off-the-field things or things he was battling on the field with injuries," Cruz said. "You could sense something was off. I tried to stay in his ear and keep him positive. It was a tough year for him. I'm happy he's in a clear mind now and able to lock in and just play."
Cruz said Nicks also heard the criticisms about his effort.
"Anytime people say things like that and try to discuss your character it takes a toll on anyone and I think it did for him," he said. "I think it's something that he wants to prove wrong now. He wants to show that he's a team guy, show that he gives his all on every play and gives his all for his teammates. I think the fresh start for him in Indy is going to be just that. We'll see how it goes for him."
On Saturday, Cruz will see it in person.