EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. >> Victor Cruz is back a lot sooner than anyone expected.
After missing all of last season and being limited to six games over the past two, the New York Giants receiver was a full-go as the team held its first practice at training camp Friday under new coach Ben McAdoo.
With the Giants indoors because of overnight rain, the workout looked more like a slow-speed organized team activity.
Cruz didn't seem to care. He participated in every drill. He caught passes. He worked at recovering fumbles, knocking off some of the rust. The nearby Paterson product didn't show any signs of being limited either by his knee or the calf injury that plagued him last year.
"I was just happy to be out there with the guys," said the 29-year-old Cruz.
The next step will be doing it in practice and then games.
Cruz is confident that he can. He also believes he can return to being a big-threat playmaker, like he was in 2011, '12 and '13 before the injuries set in.
"I think as these days progress and as these days go on, that's the plan. That's the goal, to be myself," Cruz said. "If I am not where I once was, there is no reason to be out here. I feel like I want to go back and be at that same pedigree, and that's what I worked hard all season for."
McAdoo said Cruz will be monitored during training camp, and there will be adjustment to his workload if needed.
"He got some good individual work in and was sharp on his assignments. He looked good," McAdoo said, adding that Cruz will work with both the first- and second-team offensive units.
Cruz acknowleged there has been some anxiety in recent days. He felt a lot of eyes looking in his direction on Thursday as the team went through conditioning drills after reporting. He woke up early Friday, just to get to the facility.
Cruz guessed that he will need only one play to really know that he is back. He'll catch a ball in practice and make something happen.
"Right now me just being out here, running around and being in the same receiver line as everybody else, that's the first sign of being back," Cruz said.
The second sign will be to show consistency, to make those sharp cuts and prove it out on the field. He has no intention of holding back over health concerns.
Getting back on the same page with quarterback Eli Manning should not be a problem.
"Eli and I have been together long enough," Cruz said. "We understand how to play the game and how he wants it done. I'm pretty coachable, so we can go back and forth."
Manning said Cruz know McAdoo's offense.
"We just got to get him back to making plays, making catches," Manning said. "It's different when you're catching balls from a JUGS machine, rather than in here you got one-on-one, you got to run a route, you got to make a tight catch. We just got to get him back to making football plays again."
Cruz knows there are people who doubt that he will be able to make a comeback after being out so long.
"As much as people say they don't read those comments, I skim them a bit," Cruz said. "I don't let it affect me as much, but I skim them just to gauge what people are saying."
And you can bet, he intends to prove them wrong.