Giants wideout Victor Cruz made an unexpected appearance during the pre-practice media session on Tuesday, and just as unanticipated, he arrived to the podium in a walking boot on his injured left foot and aided by crutches.
While Cruz insisted the crutches were a precautionary aid insisted upon by the team’s doctors who wanted him to keep weight off the bruised heel, the fact that the receiver limped around the facility would give any Big Blue backer cause for concern.
Cruz, though, insisted he’s “feeling good ... better than [Sunday], which is a good sign,” and is holding out hope he can actually get in some work in the preseason once the swelling goes down.
“I felt it go numb immediately, and I knew something was wrong, but good thing it’s just a heel bruise, a heel contusion. It’s not too bad,” said Cruz. “They [team doctors] are just saying day to day right now. Coach [Tom] Coughlin and the doctors had a conversation and told me just take it day by day, see how the swelling goes and we’ll take it from there. ... Hopefully not too much longer [using crutches]. They’re just gauging it. Obviously the more the swelling goes down, the better I feel, [and] the less time on those crutches.”
Cruz is expected to be replaced in the starting lineup by Rueben Randle or Jerrel Jernigan, and perhaps Kevin Hardy in the slot when the Giants use three wide receivers.
But, however the playing time is divvied up, Randle said he hopes Cruz recovers quickly — even though the second-year player stands to gain more playing time in the star’s absence.
“I think we all have a competitive nature that if we’re injured, we’re going to continue to fight through and give our best effort, so I can’t really see [a huge drop off],” Randle said. “We need to just stay positive and hopefully he comes back as soon as possible. ... We’re just going to pray for him and hope he comes back ready for the season.”
Cruz said he’ll be working diligently to get back into the mix again, but not because he doesn’t have faith in his temporary replacements, but because he loathes sitting out.
“It’s all about getting better at this point, for everybody,” Cruz said. “I think I have a firm understanding of the offense and me and Eli [Manning] have an understanding of how he likes to hit me and the things we do out there on the field. I’m not too concerned about it. ... Obviously, I’m a guy that loves to practice, loves to be out there, but it’s just a short setback. You would never want to have one, but if there’s a time to have one, it’s now.”
Cruz will most likely miss the Jets game Saturday night, something he hopes won’t be true. But given the short turnaround between the second and third preseason games, and the fact that most regulars sit out the final preseason game, it looks like the receiver may have to wait until the season opener to play meaningful snaps.
“Hopefully I can be back before [the end of the preseason]. That’s what I do envision, but I don’t know, we’ll see,” Cruz said. “It’s all up to the coaches and the staff and apparently how I feel. We’re just taking it day by day and taking it one step at a time.”
The biggest thing for Cruz, he acknowledged, is making sure the heel injury isn’t a chronic situation.
“I think it’s an injury where it’s predominately the swelling that’s the issue and once the swelling goes down, I think I’ll be OK,” he said. “I just want to be smart, want to make sure I’m 100 percent when I’m out there. I want to make sure all of the swelling is gone and kind of attack it early, keep it iced as much as possible, get the ice massage and get the swelling down as much as possible ... [and] just kind of stay ahead of it. But I don’t see it lingering or anything long term with this.”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.