Published on: 9th August, 2016
by Scott Mandel
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Given Victor Cruz’ injury history and the Giants organization’s preference to not always come clean on the truth behind Cruz’ fragility over the past two years, any kind of nick or hurt the wide receiver experiences must be met with a raised eyebrow.
His latest “boo boo,” a “tight groin,” could delay Cruz’s return to game action, according to Giants head coach, Ben McAdoo.
Cruz suffered the injury early in practice today and was pulled from the rest of the workout. No decision has been made about whether he will play in the Giants’ preseason opener in MetLife Stadium on Friday against the Miami Dolphins.
“It’s a little early for that,” McAdoo said.
Asked if the injury could complicate his availability for the Miami game, Cruz said, “I’m sure. I haven’t spoken to anybody, whether it be coach or the training staff or anybody, about Friday. I’m sure it clouds it up a little bit.”
Although McAdoo never confirmed Cruz would play if healthy, the receiver said he expected to be on the field vs. Miami.
“In my mind, yes,” he said. “Obviously, until spoken to or said otherwise by someone else, I thought I was going to be with everybody else and I was going to play however many number of snaps there are, but yeah, I expected to play.”
Perhaps he still will, as Cruz downplayed the severity of the injury in a post-practice news conference.
“Just a little tightness,” he said. “I didn’t want to push it and make it worse, so I just told the training staff and they shut me down.
“I kind of get one every camp. It’s just whether I play through it or it just times up on an off day or something like that. It’s just a little tightness. I just have to get in the training room, ice it up and it’ll be alright.”
But given his recent history and the long, arduous path he took to return to the field, every Cruz injury is cause for scrutiny. He missed the entire 2015 season with a calf injury. And that was after sitting out the final 10 games of the 2014 season with a torn patellar tendon.
Cruz worked relentlessly to return to the field, and though it’s the preseason, he is eager to play in his first game since Oct. 12, 2014. Now he might have to wait at least another week.
But he bounced back from that news just as he does after absorbing a jarring hit on the field.
“I’m not frustrated,” he said. “I just have to listen to my body and make sure I’m going about this the right way. I don’t want to ignore something and then have another major setback.”
He learned that lesson last summer when his desire to stay on the field prompted him to keep practicing despite discomfort in his calf.
“Anytime I feel something substantial, that’s something that I don’t want to push through,” he said. “I definitely want to let the training staff know as opposed to pushing through it and counting my time out there trying to make the best of it no matter what. It’s just being smarter about things.”
The Giants have followed that path for months. Cruz was kept out of all spring drills to allow his calf to fully heal. He was limited early in training camp, where his workload has steadily but slowly increased. If the medical staff thought it was best to take a step back, that’s what Cruz did.
“It’s a combination of what he needs from a coaching perspective, the training room perspective, the strength and conditioning perspective,” McAdoo said. “It’s not just one person making that decision. We take the numbers; we take everything into consideration.”
That includes how Cruz is feeling. So what has his body told him throughout camp?
“That I’ve been great,” he said. “I went through one of my biggest workloads the last week and came back the next day and practiced and everything felt good. No pain, no ailments or anything like that. My body has been good and responding well to the wear and tear of camp, so I’m excited about that. I just want to keep putting things forward. Obviously, with the game on Friday, another practice tomorrow, we’ll see how I feel come tomorrow and we’ll just take it one day at a time.”
Cruz has plenty of time to reach optimal health. The Giants open the regular season in Dallas on Sept. 11. But playing in that game is not Cruz’s specific goal.
“I think the important thing is just my health in general, no matter when or how I’m ready,” he said. “Whatever the case may be, just to continue success and having good health each and every time I’m out there is the goal. Obviously, you look short-term and think Dallas, but you just want to be ready. You just want to be ready. Whenever the time comes, you want to make sure your body is fully 100 percent before you step back on the field.”