WR Victor Cruz took another small step back in minicamp
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Victor Cruz high-stepped with the rest of his teammates Tuesday during warmups for Giants coach Ben McAdoo's inaugural three-day, voluntary minicamp at the Giants' field house.
When the calisthenics session ended, the veteran wide receiver left the light drills to others. He had his own work to do outside.
While the offense executed pass routes and the defense went through fumble drills that will become a daily part of practices under the new head coach, Cruz continued his rehabilitation from last year's calf surgery. Coupled with the reconstruction of his patellar tendon in 2014, Cruz has been out of action the past 18 months.
His goal, and the Giants' desire, is that he not only return this year as a second receiving option to the explosive Odell Beckham, Jr., but that Cruz comes back as the same game-breaking pass catcher who accounted for 23 receiving touchdowns between 2011 and 2013.
Tuesday marked another small step in that process.
"Just the fact that I was out there, just being in those stretch lines after a long, lost year, it felt good just to be out there," Cruz said. "And then, just doing a pretty good workout on the treadmill behind them felt good."
The franchise's evaluation of how far Cruz has progressed will determine in some part whether general manager Jerry Reese tabs a receiver with one of his six picks in this week's draft. Current speculation has the Giants drafting a receiver somewhere between Thursday's first round and Saturday's final four rounds.
They do have a need after last year's No. 2 receiver Rueben Randle signed a free-agent contract with the Eagles.
When to draft that person is the question. But Cruz said he wants to render unnecessary any thoughts of drafting one high.
Not that he has made any effort, subtle or vehement, to sway Reese away from stocking the position.
"I'm not barging in anywhere, man. I'm not trying to risk my job," Cruz said. "I'm just going to prove it on the field. That's all I can do is prove my worth, prove my ability. I'll leave the rest up to the GM and the rest of those guys."
To do that, however, Cruz has to get back to practice. McAdoo said that day will come in due time. Just not in this minicamp.
"We're going to take small steps with him," McAdoo said. "Third week of the offseason, we don't want to rush into anything. We want to take our time. When he's ready to go, we'll put him back out there."
Cruz said he'll wait as long as he needs to. His objective is not to get back quickly, but to come back at full health and effectiveness.
"I'm not in the business to go out there and be half of myself or half the player I once was," Cruz said. "I want to go out there and be ready to go 100 percent and be the player I once was. That's the goal.
"I want to build up to that to make sure my body is responding to that level of what it once was."
Beckham looks forward to the day he and Cruz would reunite as a tandem. The two have only played in two games together, and the Giants' passing game has basically become a one-man show centered on Beckham ever since.
He would like to see that end as soon as possible.
"Looking at Vic and watching him, I know he's as anxious as I am for him to get on that field," Beckham said. "To finally be able to line up with him, I'm definitely excited and looking forward to that.
"We're going to benefit each other. Put us on the same side and two people are going to take one person, and one person's going to be one on one. You think about matchups, many of the things I've done have been taken from his film."
For now, Cruz has only expectations and further rehab sessions. The payoff must wait.
"The first step is to get out on the practice field," Cruz said.
Tuesday's warmups represented another step in that direction.
NOTES: DE Jason Pierre-Paul went through his first organized practice since surgery to strengthen the grip on his fireworks-damaged right hand, and he reported an improved grip. He worked out with a glove he used before he resorted to a club-like wrap last year, but said a new glove is on its way. "My hand's OK," Pierre-Paul said. "I knew I would need surgery after the season, but now I'm past that. I'm hitting the bags normal, I'm grabbing normal. It's a straight shot for me now. I'll be better than I was." . TE Larry Donnell practiced following an offseason of rehabilitation from a neck problem. When questioned about the exact nature of the injury, he was anything but precise. "It was a situation that was worse than I expected," said Donnell, who was originally thought to have broken a bone. When questioned directly about whether it was broken, he said, "To an extent.". Cruz said the potential for the animosity between Beckham and new Redskins cornerback Josh Norman that started in last year's game against Norman's old team, Carolina, should not carry over to their twice-yearly meetings now. "I think Odell and Norman learned that that's part of the game that is unnecessary," Cruz said. "I know Odell is ready to move on from it."