Victor Cruz back at Giants practice after myriad injuries

ByDan Graziano ESPN logo
Tuesday, June 14, 2016

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- He knew the abuse was coming, but Victor Cruz couldn't wait for it. As he lined up for the gauntlet drill at the start of New York Giants minicamp practice Tuesday, he heard his teammates' gleeful voices.

"I heard a lot of, 'Who's the new guy?'" Cruz said after practice. "They're always killing me with that stuff."

But nothing was going to wipe the grin off his face. Cruz, the Giants wide receiver who hasn't played since October 2014 due to knee and calf injuries, participated in practice drills Tuesday for the first time in eight months. He didn't do a whole lot, but he was able to work in some individual drills and even got into some of the team period late in practice.

"Another small step today," Giants coach Ben McAdoo said.

As of last week, the Giants' plan was to hold Cruz out of practice drills until training camp started in late July. But he'd been pestering the coaches and the training staff to clear him for at least some work with teammates before the Giants left for the summer. Pleased with his recovery so far, they relented.

"I think I was ready, the training staff thought I was ready," Cruz said. "I personally wanted to do something this spring/summer, and I'm happy they somewhat listened to me."

It's still a long road back for Cruz. He tore the patellar tendon in his right knee in Week 6 of 2014 and missed the remainder of that season. He was able to practice some in training camp last year, but he never even got into a preseason game before he suffered a left calf injury that ended up costing him all of 2015. So the Giants haven't seen him in game action in 20 months and still have no idea if he can ever again be the player he was pre-injury.

But all of that is down the road. Cruz said he woke up at 5:55 a.m. Tuesday excited to finally be out on the field with his teammates -- even though practice didn't start until 11:25. He said he started planting and cutting during route-running drills last week and still needs to work some of the deeper routes on the route tree into his routine before he's all the way back. But even a small step at this point is more than welcome.

"It was great to see," Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said. "There's no one who wants to be on the field more than Victor."

Related Video