Giants still taking it slow, targeting training camp for Victor Cruz

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Victor Cruz was at New York Giants practice Monday, but he wasn't practicing. He likely won't practice for a while.

As the Giants went through drills during organized team activities, Cruz jogged lightly around the perimeter of the practice fields and worked on the side with a member of the training staff.

"Right now, we're looking for him to get back here, and he's working to get back, for training camp," Giants coach Ben McAdoo said of Cruz. "That's the goal. Small steps."

Cruz has not played since tearing the patellar tendon in his right knee during a Week 6 loss in Philadelphia in 2014. He rehabbed the knee last year but tore a calf muscle in his left leg in training camp and missed the entire 2015 season.

At this point, the Giants have no idea whether Cruz will ever see the field again in an NFL game, and no idea what kind of player he can be following that serious a knee injury. But while everyone seems to agree that his rehab is going well, they believe the best course of action is to take things very slowly with Cruz.

"We've got to get him healthy," quarterback Eli Manning said. "We've got to make sure that everybody is being smart and understanding that he's had several injuries and surgeries. So just make sure you're being smart with his workload and make sure we get him to training camp. When the doctors and everybody say he's cleared and ready to go, then that's a good thing."

The Giants and their fans allowed themselves to get excited last summer about the prospect of Cruz teaming with Odell Beckham Jr. in Manning's wide receiver corps. And the way Cruz performed on the field during training camp practices contributed to that. But the more important memory is that Cruz never made it into a preseason game and hasn't played against an opponent in nearly 20 months.

It would be a great comeback story if Cruz can get back on the field this year. But there's no reason to assume he will, or to believe he can return to his pre-injury superstar ways. The Giants are being ultra-cautious and viewing a possible Cruz return as an unexpected bonus. That's the best way to look at it right now.