Ever since 2011 Eli Manning and Victor Cruz have had a good connection, when the little known wide receiver out of the University of Massachusetts burst onto the scene catching 82 passes for over 1,500 yards. During week 6 of last season, in what was a very melancholy moment, Cruz knee seemed to buckle awkwardly while leaping for a pass in the end zone. He suffered a torn patellar tendon in his right knee, and injury that has been problematic for players in the past.
Cruz has been rehabbing and working hard to get back to his top form.
“I think he’s looked great out there,” noted Manning. “He’s been out there a bunch, and seems to be feeling good—running his routes the normal way, getting in and out of breaks.”
Cruz and Manning have partnered for three very strong seasons before last season. In those seasons, Cruz has averaged 80 catches for 1,208 yards. Rapport between wide receivers can be underrated. For instance, as talented as Reuben Randle has shown glimpses of, he and Manning don’t seem to have the same bond shared between a quarterback and wide receiver. Cruz has always seemed to have that with Manning. But has that seemed to change with Cruz’s injury?
“Well, I think it still takes time,” said Manning. “Obviously, it’s not new for him but it’s still a fairly new offense. “Some new, different routes, different combinations. So I think he’s still trying to get back in the flow of things. It’s been a while since he’s been running around out there on the field, seeing things. I think he’s looked good. I missed him yesterday on a route, but we’re getting very close.”
Cruz has maintained that he feels good, and that he hasn’t suffered any setbacks. Reports seem to indicate that he might not be quite as fast and quick as he has in the past, but time and his mental psyche after such a brutal injury could help that.
Also, Cruz comes back to a very strong wide receiving core that includes Reuben Randle, and rookie phenom Odell Beckham Jr. Especially with OBJ, Cruz should see some defensive matchups that he can take advantage of. In addition, they added veteran James Jones, who was once a very productive player for the Green Bay Packers, and he can provide some depth at wide receiver.
Manning seems to think Cruz is close to returning to form, and that’s a pretty good recommendation. Cruz has always been a player who has overcome the odds. Facing adversity should be nothing new to Cruz, and it isn’t hard to cheer for a guy like Victor Cruz.