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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.Y. — For New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, experiencing a little soreness in his groin is nothing new and nothing he can’t fight through.
Of course, that was before Cruz suffered the first of two major injuries starting in October 2014 that have kept him off the field since then.
These days, Cruz, who is trying to come back from a torn patellar tendon in his right knee suffered in 2014 and the calf injury in his left leg that cost him last year, knows that there’s a time and a place for being tough and pushing through the normal soreness that comes with summer training camp.
As far as Cruz is concerned, that time and place is not now.
“I just have to listen to my body and make sure I’m going about this the right way,” he said after practice. “I don’t want to ignore something and then have another major setback.”
That’s a lesson Cruz learned last year when he was convinced he was over his knee issue. Instead, he began compensating for his knee and before anyone realized it, he developed the calf issue that lingered well into the season before the team finally shut him down and he had surgery.
“Anytime I feel something substantial, that’s something that I don’t want to push through,” he said. “I definitely want to let the training staff know as opposed to pushing through it and counting my time out there trying to make the best of it no matter what. It’s just being smarter about things.”
Up until this point, Cruz said he had actually felt good about his long-awaited comeback attempt. The 29-year-old receiver hoped to get some snaps in the Giants’ preseason opener on Friday, an event that will have to wait at least another week.
“I’ve been great. I went through one of my biggest workloads the last week and came back the next day and practiced and everything felt good — no pain, no ailments or anything like that, so my body has been good and responding well to the wear and tear of camp, so I’m excited about that,” Cruz said.
“I just want to keep putting things forward. Obviously with the game on Friday, another practice (Wednesday), we’ll see how I feel come tomorrow and we’ll just take it one day at a time.”
If Cruz is indeed out of Friday’s game — head coach Ben McAdoo has not made that official — the Giants will get a good look at Cruz’s successor, rookie Sterling Shepard, who has been dazzling this summer.
“I’m pretty excited,” Shepard said about his upcoming debut. “We have been banging around with each other for a little while. It is going to be fun to start hitting somebody else and playing against other guys.”
Shepard, who has at one time or another made every Giants defensive back in camp look foolish thanks to his polished route running, said he has constantly sought advice from his veteran defensive teammates about what they see and how he can improve a particular route or concept.
Those tips combined with his natural abilities are things that Shepard hopes translates to the field.
“I expect it to be similar to practice, you know, physical, fast,” he said of his expectations for his debut. “It is just like the saying, ‘You practice like you play,’ so I try to give it 100 percent effort at practice all the time because it truly does show up in the games, so I expect that.”