Cruz participated in all the Giants' drills during their first training camp practice of the summer Friday. This was the first practice Cruz completed from start to finish since August, when he originally felt a twinge in his calf.
Cruz called it a "huge accomplishment" after missing all of last year with a calf injury that admittedly was the result of overcompensation from a serious knee injury the previous season.
"I'm feeling well. Day 1 was pretty good to knock the rust off a little bit and run some routes and things like that," Cruz said. "So it felt pretty good."
Cruz participated in every drill during a practice that didn't include any one-on-one or team drills. He even fielded punts that fueled his competitive desire. After dropping one, he almost immediately jumped back to the front of the line to try again.
There weren't any limitations on Cruz like there were in the spring, when he spent most of his time working on a side field with trainers and barely squeezed in some individual drills during minicamp in June. There won't be any restrictions going forward either. Cruz has received full clearance from the Giants and their medical staff.
"He's going to practice," coach Ben McAdoo said. "Victor is in the flow of practice and like all our players, we're going to monitor him."
Cruz appeared fine running and cutting on the right knee and left calf that ruined most of the past two years. He felt close to 100 percent.
"Just about," Cruz said. "I feel pretty good. Obviously the true test is when we get some defense out there and we get to do something against them, which obviously comes [Friday]. But I feel pretty good. I feel confident on my routes. I hope it looked that way out there, but it definitely felt that way. I'm happy about that."
McAdoo didn't seem disappointed.
"He looked fine out here running routes, got some good individual work in," McAdoo said. "He looked sharp on his assignments."
Each day will be another test for Cruz. Saturday he will see how his legs hold up to back-to-back practices and during drills against defenders. He hasn't done either since early in training camp last year. Then he'll see how he handles full pads on Tuesday.
Cruz has to prove to himself and the team that he can still play at a high level. The Giants have been cautiously optimistic this offseason about the prospects, saying anything they get from the Pro Bowl receiver is a bonus after he has missed 26 straight games.
Cruz is still a work in progress after such a long layoff.
"The speed is just about there," he said. "The cutting ... just need to get more and more work on that."
Cruz has seen, read and heard the doubters. Some of it might have merit. Even in his mind, there is something to prove.
"Just that I can do the things I once did," he said. "Not just once, but be consistent, understand what I'm seeing, make the sharp cuts out of my break, have that quickness that I once had and prove it out here on the field."