Yeah, it's me. Your friendly neighborhood offseason reality check. I'm here today to talk about this very impressive-looking Instagram post that New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz put out there earlier this week, showing him progressing well in the gym as he works to try to get back onto the football field.
Exciting? Sure. There's ol' Victor, sprinting from a dead stop, jumping onto high things, doing one-knee squats on the knee that has the repaired patellar tendon in it. It's got him fired up, for sure, and if you're a fan of Cruz and the Giants it's fair to get excited about the possibility of Cruz finally being back on the field along with Odell Beckham Jr. this fall.
But I continually marvel at the shortness of NFL memories. If offseason rehab effort were all that mattered, Cruz would have made the Pro Bowl last year. Instead, you may remember, after a promising, exciting, encouraging offseason and training camp, Cruz missed the entire season. Yes, you can point out that the injury that cost him 2015 was a calf injury in the leg opposite the one in which the rebuilt knee resides. But the fact is, that's the kind of thing that happens when you're trying to come back from a major injury. And until you come all the way back from a major injury, you haven't.
Nothing Cruz does or posts on Instagram in April matters at all to the expectations it's fair to have for his return. Nothing he does in a controlled environment should be used as evidence that he can ever again be the player he once was. That's the hard truth. Everyone who knows Cruz is rooting for his recovery, but no one has reason to count on it until they see him play in a game. That's something we haven't seen in 18 months and, best-case, won't see again for another four.
The knee injury Cruz suffered in October of 2014 wasn't an ACL -- it was a torn patellar tendon. There's precious little template for full recovery from that injury for a wide receiver who relies on explosiveness and short-range quickness as Cruz always did. Until you see him in competitive game conditions, jumping and cutting and lunging with that right leg, there's not one single relevant conclusion you can make about his future viability as an NFL player. The Giants know this, and while they may hope and believe Cruz can make it back, they can't possibly be sure. So they'll make their 2016 plans on the assumption they won't have him and hope they get a pleasant surprise. In that respect, nothing's changed about Cruz since this time last year but his age.
Sorry to be a downer, but that's the way it is. Cruz may make it back and he may not. It's great that he's working so hard to get there, and he should be commended for that. Knowing the guy, it's not a surprise. But at this point, the best way to manage your Cruz expectations is to keep them low and hope he exceeds them.