EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The salsa is seemingly coming back to the New York Giants' offense.
Almost a year after playing in his last game, salsa-dancing wide receiver Victor Cruz is hoping to practice Wednesday and play for the first time in almost a year when the Giants are in Buffalo on Sunday.
It's been a long road back for Cruz. He ruptured his right patella tendon on Oct. 12 in a game against the Eagles and missed the final 10 games of last season. He had targeted the season opener against Dallas for his return from a second straight knee injury, but a calf injury in training camp forced him to miss the first three games this season.
Now, Cruz appears ready to join a receiving corps led by Odell Beckham Jr. All he has to do is get through practice this week without aggravating the calf.
Cruz admits the prospect of playing again is exciting. He seemed to have a smile on his face for most of his interview session Monday.
The frustration of not knowing when he would play again appeared to be settled.
''Even driving in today, I was kind of like: `I'm driving in and I'm going to be putting the helmet on, and this is about the same time it all happened last year,'' Cruz said. ''It's a little emotional and I can't lie. There might be some emotions spread out there on the field on Sunday.''
The 28-year-old Cruz jogged with the team Monday in a light workout and caught about 20 passes from former Giant David Tyree while running route under the supervision of a trainer.
''He's in a good place now,'' coach Tom Coughlin said. ''He feels good. He felt good when he ran over the weekend. He has no issues whatsoever, he's telling me. He's anxious to get back out on the field and play, and we're anxious to have him do that.''
Cruz said his only expectations are to be himself, play well and use this as a stepping stone. He certainly wants to catch the ball and run with it. The biggest goal, of course, will be to score. If that happens, Cruz is going to dance. No doubt about it.
''Will there be tears of some sort? Maybe. I cannot confirm or deny that,'' he said to reporters. ''I am very macho when I talk to you guys. But we'll see. It's definitely going to be an emotional game. It will be a fun game. I plan on having fun, catching everything that goes my way and hopefully come out with a win.''
Being on the field Monday was another step closer to that goal. Watching the first three weeks was brutal.
''That's where you feel complete,'' Cruz said of practicing. ''You don't just want to be in here and the cafeteria, meeting rooms, locker rooms, you want to be out there on that field going through the trenches with them. So I'm happy I got be to be able to be out there with them again.''
Coughlin said Cruz has to get through practice healthy before he gets back in the lineup, noting that the big question might be how he feels heading into practice Thursday.
Middle linebacker Jon Beason returned to practice on the Wednesday before a game against Atlanta on Sept. 20, and he was not able to practice the rest of the week. He returned to action in the win against the Redskins last Thursday night.
''Every day is important,'' said Cruz, who went from an obscure free agent out of Massachusetts in 2010 to one of the NFL's top receivers before the injuries got him late in 2013. ''Even the days I come in and get treatment.''
Cruz said defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie teased him about being back on the field. Most were just happy to see him working,
''When you know you have a good person like that that's battled back, it makes you want to play harder when you know how hard he's worked to get back out there,'' defensive end Robert Ayers Jr. said.
NOTES: RB Orleans Darkwa (knee), DT Markus Kuhn (knee), Rodgers-Cromartie (concussion), DE Owa Odighizuwa (foot), OT Ereck Flowers (ankle) and Ayers (hamstring) were all at practice on Monday.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL