Coughlin: Cruz will be back to player he was

Still working his way back from a devastating knee injury, Victor Cruz is determined to get back to full health and he has the full support and a vote of confidence from head coach Tom Coughlin.

Few things last season went according to plan for the Giants. Even the one thing that did go to plan, Eli Manning’s resurgence and a breakout season from a receiver, has a major blemish.

Ben McAdoo’s hiring as offensive coordinator last year was met with equal amounts of excitement and skepticism. Eli Manning had his fair share of critics on how he would be able to handle the transition. It was unanimously agreed however that Victor Cruz was a perfect fit in the scheme, a base three-receiver West Coast Offense that featured slot receiver Randall Cobb so effectively in Green Bay. Unfortunately for Cruz, he barely had an opportunity to showcase his ability in this new role, and his long-term prospects are cloudy.

Cruz ruptured his patellar tendon, a rare injury that has a significant recovery time. As with all knee injuries they tend to raise a red flag, especially for players that rely on quickness, precise cuts and change-of-direction skills. Tom Coughlin nonetheless is holding out hope that his star receiver will be the same player he was prior to the injury.

“I think he will be back to the player that he was and hopefully better,” Coughlin said. “Victor looks really good, he’s starting to run, I was in the field house watching him rehab, he’s coming along well.”

Coughlin also added that he is hopeful Cruz will be ready for training camp, but qualified that response with uncertainty.

There is no doubt the Giants should be taking this approach going into the season, as a healthy Victor Cruz paired with last year’s superstar Odell Beckham gives Eli Manning a set of receivers that could be the catalyst for Manning’s best season yet. Still, it would be irresponsible if Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin weren’t thinking about the worst-case scenario and what alternatives the team has.

When looking at what the Giants already have in-house, the one positive aspect is that they aren’t looking to replace Cruz’s ability as a number one receiver. Outside of Odell Beckham though, the picture is murkier. Rueben Randle is still trying to figure it out, and he is a free agent after this season. Preston Parker is a journeyman. Newly signed Dwayne Harris had just seven catches last year, and were he to make a significant contribution as a pass catcher it would be one of free agency’s major surprises. The one name to watch out for is Corey Washington, the rookie from Newberry College who made waves in the preseason and caught a touchdown in the little game opportunity he received during the regular season. While essentially redshirted last year, expect him to get a much better chance to earn playing time in 2015.

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