By Curt Macysyn
Buoyed by their win against the Washington Redskins on Thursday night, the New York Giants (1-2) went back to work in preparation for their game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. If everything goes according to plan, the Giants will welcome back wide receiver Victor Cruz from a calf injury that sidelined him for all of the preseason games, as well as the first three games of the regular season. Cruz’s return could lessen the burden on Odell Beckham, Jr. to carry the team’s offense, and it also appears that the team wants to upgrade the position even further, if Tuesday’s tryouts are any indication.
Victor Cruz is raring to go, but head coach Tom Coughlin preaches patience. Undoubtedly Cruz is excited for a return to action after almost one-year of being on the sidelines. Last year, on October 12, Cruz tore the patellar tendon in his knee in game against the Eagles in Philadelphia. The idea of getting Victor on the field with Odell Beckham lasted less than 60 minutes in 2014, and it has not yet occurred in 2015 either. While Cruz seems to have made a full recovery from his gruesome knee injury, an injured calf muscle caused the veteran wideout to miss most of training camp, and at least the first three games of the regular season.
“Even driving in today, I was kind of like, ‘Man, I’m driving in and I’m actually going to be putting a helmet on,’” Cruz said in comments posted on Giants.com. “This is around the same time it all happened last year. It was a little emotional. I can’t lie, there might be some emotions spread out there on the field Sunday as well.”
His head coach was understandably more guarded. “Hopefully, he’ll be able to practice,” Coughlin said. “If he practices and practices well, he’ll be a good lift for us.” The Giants need all the play-makers they can muster on offense and defense, so number 80 in the offensive huddle would certainly be a welcome sight for fans of Big Blue.
Paul Schwartz reports that the Giants brought in several players for tryouts on Tuesday, including one familiar face. The list of former Pro Bowl stars included wide receivers Wes Welker and Hakeem Nicks, as well as tight end Chris Cooley. Nicks and Welker played last season in the NFL, but could not catch on with a team by the end of training camp, although Nicks was with the Tennessee Titans in the preseason. It is hard to imagine at this point that either player would be an upgrade at the position, especially with the return of Victor Cruz, so the tire kicking process here looks peculiar.
As far as a Nicks – Giants reunion, Schwartz thinks that it remain remote at best. “Nicks is only 27, but his career has fallen on hard times since leaving the Giants after the 2013 season. He spent one unproductive year with the Colts and was released by the Titans this past summer. His legs appear to be shot.”
On the other hand, the Giants need an upgrade at tight end, the combination of Larry Donnell and Daniel Fells does not provided the type of production that playoff caliber teams need at the position. Donnell is rated as the 64th ranked tight end by Pro Football Focus, which is by the way, last in the league. Fells is 19th, but he has only played 69 snaps on the season. Cooley has not played in the league since 2012, so his signing would seem to be remote, but acknowledging that there is a problem may be the first step to rectifying it.
Hyno in Town
ESPN’s Rich Cimini reported on Tuesday that the New York Jets worked out former Giants’ fullback Henry Hynoski. Hynoski was cut by Big Blue at the end of the preseason, when rosters were reduced to 53-players. The Giants kept Nikita Whitlock to be their fullback, and he has also chipped in on the defensive side of the ball as well. Meanwhile, the Jets already have Tommy Bohanon as their fullback, but he has struggled with a (-4.4) grade by Pro Football Focus. With that grade, Bohanon ranks 18th out of 20 fullbacks in the league, so it would make sense for the Jets to look at alternatives. Meanwhile, the Giants’ Whitlock has panned out in the green with a (+0.9) grade, good for fifth in the league.
Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past four seasons for Examiner.com, and he is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA). Born and raised in New Jersey, Curt attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, N.J. and is a graduate of Rutgers University – New Brunswick. Follow him on Twitter @CurtMac23 for the latest NFL and New York Giants news.