Nicks, also a wide receiver, was targeted 102 times in 2013, making 56 catches and failing to score a touchdown for the first time in his career. He became a free agent after the season and signed a one-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts in March.
Nicks said Monday that he took a lot of criticism last season when "people didn't really realize what I was going through."
Cruz said 2013 was a "tough year" for Nicks, adding there were times during games when Nicks didn't seem to be himself.
"I mean, anytime people say things like that and try to discuss your character, I think it takes a toll on anyone," Cruz said. "I think it did for him, and I think it's something where he wants to prove people wrong. He wants to show that he's a team guy, show that he gives his all and everything for his teammates. And I think the fresh start for him in Indy is gonna be just that, so we'll see how it goes for him."
Nicks recently said he's in the best shape of his life as the Colts' preseason opened.
The Colts will face Cruz and the Giants on Saturday in a preseason game in Indianapolis. Nicks will also face his former team Nov. 3 in a return to MetLife Stadium.
- Molly Geary