EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — For a few days, it appeared Victor Cruz was on the verge of getting over that second major knee surgery.
The New York Giants wide receiver was making catches in practices. He looked smooth getting off the line of scrimmage and was making his cuts with ease.
It seemed that the salsa-dancing fan favorite might play in the preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium on Saturday night. The dual threat of Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. was ready to be unleashed.
It won’t be this week. Cruz pulled a calf muscle in his left leg and coach Tom Coughlin doesn’t think he’ll play against Jacksonville.
“It’s not related to the knee at all,” the former Pro Bowler said Thursday. “Everything will be fine. It’s just a small hiccup in the road. It’s just a matter of me getting back. I should be back, if not by this weekend, definitely next week for sure. I’ll come out here and practice and feel good again. We’ll see how it goes.”
Cruz was one of the NFL’s most dynamic receivers between 2011-13, catching 241 passes for 3,626 yards and 23 touchdowns.
What made his story even better was that he was an undrafted free agent out of UMass who signed with the team roughly 15 minutes from his home in Paterson, N.J. and beat the odds to become a star.
His knees have put his future in doubt. He needed surgery on his left knee late in the 2013 season and then tore the patella tendon in his right knee six games into last season.
While Cruz has no doubt he will return as a top receiver, he still has to prove it.
Cruz isn’t worried about this latest injury, which he blamed on being slightly dehydrated and then tweaking the calf.
“I knew that the journey is long and hard. It wasn’t going to be easy the rest of the way. I knew there would be something that would come up,” he said. “Whether it be out here on the field or with my body, but I’m excited that it’s not something that’s major. It’s something I can get over, and something that’s not going to be a huge hindrance.”
Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is excited about the prospect of having Cruz back.
“He came out early on and didn’t seem tentative at all about sticking his foot in the ground,” McAdoo said. “The other day he made some nice plays, made one in the back of the end zone similar to the one the injury was on, and that’s a big step, that’s a major step. He made a … play down the middle at the beginning of the no-huddle period of last practice. It’s good to have him out there and I can’t wait until he’s out there full-time and ready to go.”
Neither can Cruz.
If there is a concern for the offense, it’s getting everyone healthy and practicing. Eli Manning and the first team failed to gain a first down in four series against Cincinnati in the preseason opener.
Rueben Randle, the No. 3 receiver, has not practiced this week because of tendinitis in his knee, and the offensive line is still looking for its best five. Guard-tackle Geoff Schwartz, who missed the preseason opener with an ankle injury, is back. Beckham (dental work), Cruz and left guard Justin Pugh (dental work) all missed Wednesday’s practice.
“I think we’re on the right process of getting better, and I think it’ll show up this weekend,” Manning said.
NOTES: Pugh plans to return to practice Thursday after having oral surgery to repair an infected fractured molar. He has been dealing with the problem the past six months, with dentists telling him he was grinding his teeth. … Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn said the goal for his group this year is to improve on punt returns and coverage. … Coughlin said RG John Jerry and RT Marshall Newhouse probably will start again this weekend. They did not play well in the preseason opener.
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