Cruz: Criticism affected Nicks last season

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Hakeem Nicks received a lot of criticism last season with the New York Giants.

Was he giving it his all? Or was he just trying to avoid injury with free agency looming?

Whatever the case was, Nicks wasn’t very productive in 2013. He had just 56 catches despite being targeted 102 times, and failed to score a touchdown for the first time in his five-year career.

Instead of landing a huge payday, all the 26-year-old wide receiver got was a one-year contract with the Indianapolis Colts.

The Giants will face Nicks on Saturday night in Indianapolis. His former teammate, Victor Cruz, believes all the criticism definitely affected Nicks.

"I mean, anytime people say things like that and try to discuss your character, I think it takes a toll on anyone," Cruz said. "I think it did for him, and I think it’s something where he wants to prove people wrong. He wants to show that he’s a team guy, show that he gives his all and everything for his teammates. And I think the fresh start for him in Indy is gonna be just that, so we’ll see how it goes for him."

Cruz is very close with Nicks, and plans to send his friend some trash talk via text before the game.

"It’s gonna be weird," Cruz said of seeing Nicks on the opposing sideline. "I was watching him this past week in that good old Colts jersey, and it’s just not the same. He’s healthy and in the best shape of his life from what I hear and what I see."

Cruz thought last season was "tough" for Nicks.

"Obviously he’s a competitor and he wants to play and be able to do all of those things at a high level, and you could just see certain times throughout the game it just didn’t look like he was himself," Cruz said. "Whether it was off-the-field things or things that he was battling on the field with injuries and things like that, you could just sense something was off. But I just tried to stay in his ear and keep him positive. It was a tough year for him and I’m happy he’s in a clear mind now and able to kinda lock in as well."