There were some familiar faces back on the Giants’ practice field, on Monday, and they couldn’t have come at a better time.
New York (1-2) is coming off an emotional primetime win over the Washington Redskins, last Thursday, and with the physical Buffalo Bills (2-1) up next, every available hand will be needed.
Wideout Victor Cruz (calf), defensive ends Owa Odighizuwa (foot) and Robert Ayers Jr. (hamstring), cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (concussion), and rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers (ankle) all participated in practice – in varying degrees — as head coach Tom Coughlin reasoned the session was more of a walk-through.
But at least the walking wounded were back with their brethren, giving hope that all could be on the active roster in Buffalo. Cruz, who hadn’t practiced in any capacity since Aug. 17 because of a calf injury, has vowed to make his season debut on Sunday.
“I’m convinced I’m playing Sunday,” Cruz said, adding this is the best he’s felt in weeks. “I didn’t feel anything today. It’s held up very, very well. I guess all the progress and treatment I’ve done in here is kind of paying off a little bit.”
Coughlin was a little more reticent in regards to Cruz’s proclamation, noting that the wideout only jogged on an adjacent field and at most was running shorts routes and catching some passes from a trainer.
“He worked on the side,” Coughlin offered. “Hopefully he’ll be able to practice [this week]. That is what we’re counting on. If he practices, and practices well, he’ll be a good lift for us.”
Working on the side today was the pre-practice plan along for Cruz, noted Coughlin.
The others, who also sat out the Washington game, participated on different levels, with Ayers heeding Coughlin’s mantra of no practice, no play.
“I’m happy to be out here with my guys. Today won’t be a real good indication of how things are going to be, but I’m definitely excited to be around my guys, [and] have a couple days off,” reasoned Ayers, noting that Big Blue is off tomorrow. “I’m very proud [that his undermanned team won] … We’ll see how the week goes as far as me.”
Flowers wasn’t happy to miss last week’s game as a gameday inactive, but on a short turnaround, he knew it was ultimately the right call. Now, with 10 days between their Week 3 and Week 4 games, the added rest will do him good. The hulking tackle said he noticed an improvement in his left ankle, and was pleased at how it responded to today’s workout.
“It feels better. That [time off] was really helpful,” he said. “I’m working hard toward next week.”
Coughlin was pleased to have almost a full roster at the ready, but also reiterated that Monday was merely the first step in having them make the active gameday roster.
“Robert [Ayers], he did OK. And Owa moved around well,” Coughlin said. “But they know that they all have to go through a full week of practice to prove they’re ready to go.”
Big Blue notes:
– Tight end Jerome Cunningham (knee) and defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (knee) were also on a side field with trainers. They both missed Thursday night’s win as well.
– Cruz was in high spirits, today, as he joked about the work he did on the sidelines. His on-field work consisted of running about 20 routes on the side under the direction of coordinator of rehabilitation Byron Hansen. He reasoned that while the work he put in was good, the passes he received weren’t so much: “David Tyree doesn’t have the best arm, so that was a little bit of a struggle. But other than that, it was good.”