EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Barring an injury, Victor Cruz is going to play for the New York Giants on Saturday in the annual preseason game against the Jets.
Cruz, who has not played in a game since injuring a knee against Philadelphia in his sixth game in 2014, got through a week of practice without aggravating a groin injury that kept him out of preseason games against Miami and Buffalo.
Coach Ben McAdoo said he planned to use Cruz early in the game.
''I'm ready,'' Cruz said after practice on Thursday. ''Obviously it's been a long time coming. I had a good week of practice, everything feels great so I'm just excited to put that out there on the game field for the first time in a long time.''
Cruz said this is more than a preseason game to him, and there is some truth to that.
General manager Jerry Reese said he wants to see the oft-injured Cruz play two preseason games.
The Giants have a number of young receivers, led by Odell Beckham Jr. and second-round draft pick Sterling Shepard.
Cruz could give Eli Manning another option if he can stay healthy, but if the 29-year-old can't stay on the field his place on the 53-man roster could be in jeopardy.
''This one is crossing so many hurdles, so many barriers,'' Cruz said. ''So many ups and downs that I had to face to get to this moment. Now, I'm just ready to relax and go play some football again. To me, this game is bigger than just the game. Although it's just a preseason game, for me, mentally and emotionally, physically, it's more than just a football game.''
McAdoo said Cruz got through a three-hour practice on Wednesday in good shape.
''When he first got out here this week, he showed a burst and showed some acceleration, he can put his foot in the ground,'' McAdoo said. ''He had a really nice release on a slant, which reminded me of the Houston game a few years ago, so it is encouraging.
McAdoo said Cruz showed some flashes of his best days early in training camp before the groin injury.
Manning said it was good having Cruz back at practice, adding he looked fast, explosive and healthy.
''I think he's had a good understanding of the timing of this offense and when the ball is going to be coming his way,'' Manning said.
''He's always been a special guy in the slot just having a good feel. Giving sticks and it's been easy for me to read his body language when he's coming in and out of breaks. It's good that we still have that.''
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