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Cruz Believes He Will Play in 2016
Friday, Feb. 5
According to Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, the 29-year-old wideout labeled himself "85 percent" recovered from a torn calf muscle during a Super Bowl 50 Radio Row appearance Thursday, and he is optimistic about his prospects for the start of the 2016 campaign:
I do expect to be able to play. The goal is definitely to play this year, and I believe I can be ready for the start of the season. I've been rehabbing for some months now, and it's just a matter of continuing to get back to 100 percent. ... I'm just getting the strength back in the legs and the calf. The good thing is, there's no more pain, nothing like that.
Cruz also revealed that he expects to resume running in late February or early Match.
The past couple of seasons have been extremely difficult for the UMass product, as he missed all but six games in 2014 after tearing his patellar tendon.
He was expected to return in 2015, but delays in his recovery coupled with the additional calf injury prevented him from seeing any game action.
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The former Pro Bowler topped 1,000 receiving yards and had at least nine touchdowns in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons before racking up 998 yards in 2013, which was his last full season.
The slick route-runner is seemingly the perfect complement to stud receiver Odell Beckham Jr., but that combination has yet to truly manifest itself on the field.
Rueben Randle filled in admirably as the No. 2 receiver in 2015 with 797 yards and eight touchdowns, but he is set to hit free agency, which makes the potential return of Cruz extremely important from New York's perspective.
Quarterback Eli Manning may not have many opportunities to get back to the Super Bowl at the age of 35, but having a player of Cruz's caliber back in the fold could go a long way toward making the G-Men playoff contenders once again.
The landscape will be different if and when Cruz does come back since Ben McAdoo has taken over at head coach for Tom Coughlin, but if Cruz is anything close to the player he was prior to the injuries, he has a chance to thrive in McAdoo's efficient offense.
Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.