We have been waiting a long time to see Victor Cruz do the salsa in the end zone for the Giants.
The last time we saw Cruz was Oct. 12, 2014 when the Giants lost 27-0 to the Eagles in Philadelphia. Cruz tore the patellar tendon in his right knee and it has been a long road back. Now, it is no longer about the knee, but about a calf injury suffered in August that will not heal completely. In the time away, the Giants have changed and a new star has emerged. Odell Beckham Jr. has not only captured the imagination of this city, but the entire NFL. In his 17 games as a Giant, Beckham has 122 receptions for 1,733 yards and 15 touchdowns. His one handed touchdown catch against the Cowboys last November set him up for super-stardom.
The Giants take a three game winning streak into Philadelphia Monday evening and I would imagine that Beckham will give it a go, even with his balky hamstring. He is the go-to-guy in the passing attack and has become the new security blanket for quarterback Eli Manning. That job used to be held by Victor Cruz.
That is no longer the case. The 28-year-old was so confident that he would be back on the field that he reportedly held a “The Return” party at his home in New Jersey as around 60 guests sported Victor Cruz jerseys to celebrate his return to the NFL. He was the pitchman for Campbell’s Chunky Soup commercials. Everybody loved to do the salsa as he brought it back each and every time he scored a touchdown. He was offered and turned down an opportunity to appear on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. He was a huge star in this city and across the country. That is no longer the case, as his teammate Beckham gets all the burn and the love. It is Beckham who is on the cover of Madden and is the new pitchman for Head and Shoulders.
As Giant fans used to wear their No. 80 jersey to Giants games, they now wear the No. 13. A lot has changed since Cruz suffered a severe knee last year in the city of Brotherly Love. He is no longer the go-to-guy and is no longer the face of the Giants receiving corps. He must be frustrated. How could he not be? It just shows you how quickly it comes and how quickly it can go. And how I define ‘it’ there is fame, stardom, presence and job.
Cruz's place on the team seemed to be cemented. I am not sure that is the case anymore. We don’t know how he will be following the knee and calf injuries. We don’t know if he will still have the ridiculous playmaking ability he once did after an injury this severe. His body has not recovered and bounced back as quickly as you would hope for a 28-year-old. Cruz threw a party called “The Return” and when he finally does return to this Giants team, he will find his place in the passing offense to be a lot different than he remembered.
There is no question the Giants need him. They are built around their offense and the passing game. But the focus of the passing game has changed. It is amazing how quickly things change in the NFL.