EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — If Victor Cruz’s return to the field Saturday proves to be a dud and comes with zero catches for zero yards and several drops, it won’t mean much to Odell Beckham Jr. The New York Giants’ star wide receiver isn’t worried about what Cruz does in the preseason.
Beckham doesn’t need any convincing to prove that Cruz can help the team this season. He has said on several occasions that the only date that matters is Sept. 11 — the day the Giants open their season on the road against the Dallas Cowboys.
And while the Giants and fans want a clearer idea of what Cruz can do on the field after almost two full seasons on the sideline, his teammates don’t seem to care much. They seem convinced — almost to a man — the return of the old Victor Cruz will happen. It’s only a matter of when.
“He doesn’t need to prove anything to me,” running back Rashad Jennings said.
Cruz, 29, was a Pro Bowl receiver. He has two 1,000-yard seasons and a Super Bowl touchdown catch and ring on his resume, but suffered a serious, season-ending knee injury early in 2014 and missed all of 2015 with a calf injury. Cruz also struggled this summer with a groin injury.
It doesn’t seem to matter. The way undrafted rookie cornerback Donte Deayon sees it, Cruz is a “somewhat of a legend.” It’s a sentiment shared by many of the younger players in the locker room who look up to Cruz and his salsa-dancing superstardom. They’re used to seeing No. 80 making defensive backs look foolish.
It’s not as important to his teammates. They’ve remained patient, and are willing to stay that way through the start of the regular season, if need be.
“You tell him to just pace himself,” Harris said. “We have a lot of time until Sept. 11. We have 16 games. You don’t want to poop out the first half of the season and not be able to play the second half of the season when we really need you. If you miss a couple games, it’s cool.
“We have a whole lot of games after that. I tell him every day, ‘Keep your head up. Stay focused. Take your time getting back.'”
As if two years wasn’t enough already, Cruz’s teammates are willing to wait longer if necessary. Fatigue? What fatigue?
Thankfully, they’ll receive a sneak peek on Saturday and, in their eyes, how it unfolds doesn’t really matter. As long as Cruz comes out of it healthy.
It was the first place where Bill Parcells truly tested Romo to see whether he had the mettle to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. It was only a preseason game on Aug. 12, 2006, but Romo not only started the game against the Seattle Seahawks but went the distance.
He completed 19 of 25 passes for 235 yards and a 9-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Crayton in the Dallas Cowboys’ 13-3 win.
A little more than two months later and with the Cowboys sitting at 3-3, Parcells replaced Drew Bledsoe with Romo.
Romo-mentum and Romo-mania were born. Romo has become the franchise leader in touchdown passes, been selected to four Pro Bowls and been the reason the Cowboys have been in contention when he has started and finished a season.
But things changed on Jan. 6, 2007.
That’s the night a potentially game-winning field goal attempt slipped through Romo’s hands on the snap. The Cowboys lost 21-20, and it was the last game Parcells coached.