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Victor Cruz sidelined at Giants practice by new injury

Giants receiver Victor Cruz hasn't played in any game (preseason or regular season) in 667 days. Frank Franklin II/AP Photo

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The day started with wide receiver Victor Cruz on the field at New York Giants training camp, practicing with his teammates.

It ended with him watching from the sideline.

Cruz had a "tight groin." The issue surfaced in the middle of Tuesday's two-hour-plus practice. Cruz, who has missed almost all of the past two seasons with injuries, watched during most of team drills. It wasn't an unfamiliar sight.

Cruz, 29, brushed it off. He's not concerned. He has said tightness in the groin is something he experiences every training camp.

"Just a little tightness," Cruz said. "I didn't want to push it and make it worse. I just told the training staff, and they shut me down."

It might, in fact, be nothing more than a twinge. But with Cruz, any injury is of serious concern. The calf injury that sidelined him all of last season was initially thought to be dehydration. It morphed into a strain before becoming a season-ending problem. They eventually had to "cement the calf back down."

Right now the groin is being described as a minor problem. It still will likely keep him from playing in Friday's preseason game against the Miami Dolphins.

"I'm sure it cloudies [the situation] up a little bit," Cruz said.

Head coach Ben McAdoo was noncommittal, although the Giants have been cautious with Cruz this summer.

"It's a little early for that," McAdoo said of Cruz's preseason playing time.

Cruz, who tore the patellar tendon his right knee in October 2014, hasn't played in any game (preseason or regular season) in 667 days. He desperately wants to get on the field after working hard over the past six months to get back into playing shape.

Cruz and the Giants must be careful. They're hoping to have Cruz on the field for the Sept. 11 opener on the road against the Dallas Cowboys. That is the real target.

The news on Cruz's health was encouraging over the first 12 days of training camp. His body has been telling him "that I've been great," Cruz explained.

He added: "I went through one of my biggest workloads last week and came back the next day, the next practice, and everything felt good. No pain, no ailments, nothing like that. So my body is responding well to the wear and tear of camp. So I'm excited about that."

That was until the groin problem surfaced.

Cruz is returning from serious knee and calf injuries, to different legs. He admitted last year when recovering from the knee injury that overcompensation likely led to the calf problem.

Cruz has been constantly monitored in training camp, and his reps have been limited as he tries to get back to his old form.

The early returns were positive. Cruz made it through a practice, consecutive practices, and a full week of workouts. Those were several significant hurdles.

But he hadn't really shown the explosiveness that once made him a Pro Bowl receiver.

"I've come close to that. There have been a couple routes, a couple plays that have been made -- whether it be one-on-ones and 7-on-7s -- where I've felt that feeling of being myself. Where I felt that change of direction, those cuts that feel like myself," Cruz said. "Obviously they'll continue to get better as the reps go up.

"I knew it was going to be a day-to-day process."

But he didn't plan for a groin problem or any additional injuries.