The Giants had the twin gut punches of a humiliating defeat and devastating injury to deal with Monday.
But for one day, the team was more concerned with Victor Cruz’s health than replacing his offensive production.
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Quarterback Eli Manning noted he’s yet to actually talk to Cruz, but texted him prior to Monday’s conference call, said as of right now, all he’s thinking about is Cruz the man, not the player.
“I’m more worried about Victor than the team or how we’ll be able to manage,” said Manning.
Cruz was released from Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia early Monday afternoon and was transferred to the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York for more tests. The surgery will likely take place there.
“My only concern is the individual,” Manning said. “I am not worried about our team or the season or how we will be able to manage. Injuries are tough. It is a tough part of football. Playing this game, [injuries] happen. You just hate that it happened to Victor because he loves playing this game.”
Manning said he had already spoken to the training staff about Cruz’s recovery period and rehabilitation, saying he knew Cruz would “work his tail off” to come back from the injury as soon as possible.
“Victor Cruz is a very, very positive and popular young man who has meant an awful lot to this franchise, just by virtue of his work ethic and the fact that he is a Pro Bowl playmaker,” head coach Tom Coughlin said. “But again, it is another test for the team. I was going to say the offensive side of the ball, but really for our team.”
As Coughlin alluded to, the injury was felt on both sides of the ball Sunday night. Safety and fellow team captain Antrel Rolle was one of the first players to come to Cruz when he was on the ground in the end zone. And the defense as a whole was just as affected by a universally loved teammate suffering a season-ending injury.
“The story of this season has not been written yet,” said defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka. “Losing an individual like Victor for the season this early — that’s going to be tough. This is a turning point in the season, something we have to grow up from real quick … but I say that there’s no desperation here, just disappointment.”
Despite a minor firestorm over gloating Twitter comments by Philadelphia sports radio host Mike Missanelli — which he later dubiously claimed were not about the injury — even the players on the Eagles were disappointed with the injury.
“You never want to see that,” said Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin, who was covering Cruz on the play. “I love playing Victor every single year. It’s always a great matchup between us and I hope he has a speedy recovery.”
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.