By Curt Macysyn

When New York Giant’s general manager Jerry Reese stepped to the podium to meet the media on Monday, it was a unique situation. While Reese’s team finds itself at the top of the NFC east division, it also sports a .500 record as well. After the first ten games of the NFL season, there was no doubt that Big Blue went toe-to-toe with the rest of the league, including the defending Super Bowl champions on Sunday, there is also no doubt that the G-men could not shut the door when defeat came knocking either.

Reese was correct in not dwelling upon what could have been in the first ten games, and he channeled his inner Bill Parcells in the process. “I feel like a first place team because that’s where we are. Obviously I really don’t want to talk about the first ten games, the first ten games are over, but we had some chances in some of those games to come out on top. We didn’t do it and we’re 5-5, we’re on top. The division is going to come down to a couple games at the end probably, and we want to be one of the teams in the conversation at the end,” Reese said to reporters.

The challenges continued this week the Giants learned that Victor Cruz will not be available to the team for the rest of the season, after requiring surgery on his injured calf muscle. Meanwhile the team brought back a familiar face, Hakeem Nicks, to take Cruz’s roster spot.

Cruz Cut Short

There were so many starts and stops in wide receiver Victor Cruz’s recovery that nothing could be considered a surprise, but that does not mean that the news still was not a shock to the team when it was announced on Monday. According to the team, Cruz tore his calf muscle while working out on Saturday, and he will have to undergo surgery in order to repair it.

“This hurts, mainly because I worked so hard to come back from the patellar tendon surgery,” Cruz said. “And I fought hard, day in and day out. Rehab, physical work, strength work, I felt like I was back to 100 percent. And then the calf happens, and it’s a tough thing to go through.”

After losing a tough contest to the New England Patriots, 27-26, on Sunday, the Giants returned to the Quest Diagnostics Center to hear the unfortunate news. “To be honest, the information was pretty well kept from me until today,” Coughlin said. “I appreciated that in a way, I didn’t want to be thinking about other things as we prepared for our game. Yeah, very disappointing, and I feel very badly for Victor in terms of this one issue, obviously the most difficult to get over the hump with. He’s going to have to get this taken care of, and hopefully it will solve the issue and he can move forward and so can we.”

Cruz’s contract counted $8.1 million against the team’s salary cap this season, and his contract runs through the 2018 season. General manager Jerry Reese did not want to talk about it at his press conference on Monday, but Cruz’s future contract status will obviously be part of the Giants’ off season discussions. Designating Cruz a post-June 1 cut would save Big Blue $8 million in cap space, and only account for $1.9 million in dead money. For a player who has not played an NFL snap in more than a year, a comeback is anything but assured, especially under the five-year, $43 million contract he signed in 2014.

Nicks Back

After the Cruz injury put a damper on the 2015 season, the blow to the team was softened as the team welcomed back former 2009 first-round draft pick Hakeem Nicks as a replacement. Nicks was formerly a big play target for Eli Manning and the Giants from 2009 until leaving as a free agent after the 2013 season. Nicks caught 311 passes for the G-men for 4,622 yards and 27 touchdown catches.

Nicks did not leave the Giants on good terms as he suffered through an injury-plagued and inconsistent season with 896 receiving yards and zero touchdown catches. After another uninspiring campaign with the Indianapolis Colts in 2014, Nicks was again looking for a landing spot in 2015 and spent training camp with the Tennessee Titans. But Nicks did not make the Titans final roster and has been searching for NFL works since.

“I told myself, ‘Just be patient, man, there’s a lot of football left,’” Nicks said in a statement released by the team. “I knew I could help a lot of teams. I knew once November, December football came around I was going to be getting a phone call. I wanted it to be from here and it happened like this. I’m just ecstatic and happy that I’m back in the building.”

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.