EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Victor Cruz couldn't help but laugh when Dr. Russell Warren finished examining his sprained ankle earlier this week and told him there was good chance he would be able to play against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night.
It might have been the best news the long-time New York Giants orthopedic surgeon had given Cruz in roughly three years.
If you've forgotten, Cruz missed all but six games in 2014 with a knee injury and all of last season with a calf injury that required surgery. The preseason even had some suspense as a groin injury limited his play.
Still, Cruz made it for the opener and was a constant in the lineup until spraining his ankle making a 46-yard catch in the second quarter of Sunday's 28-23 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, the same team that Cruz played when he hurt his knee in 2014.
While Cruz did a little dance after making the catch, he quickly realized his ankle hurt. He was taken in for an X-ray and later had an MRI. He did not return to the game.
''Especially with me, we are going to get every picture we possibly can to make sure everything is on the up and up,'' said Cruz, who has 25 catches for 377 yards and a touchdown halfway through the season.
The MRI showed no break and little damage to the ligaments. There is little swelling and discoloration. The ankle has steadily improved, but Cruz was not able to practice Thursday.
Cruz quipped that if he can go the rest of his career without taking another MRI, he would be happy.
''You kind of know in your heart what it feels like and you know the severity of it,'' Cruz said when asked if he was anxious taking tests. ''You know that in your heart and mind, and the MRI might sway to the left of that or sway in a positive way, and thankfully for me it swayed in a positive way.''
Cruz admits there is some frustration being unable to practice, but that's a part of the game he accepts.
He also accepts that coach Ben McAdoo has decided to limit his play heading into the second half of the season with the Giants (5-3) in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Rookie Roger Lewis Jr. got some snaps in Cruz's spot before he was hurt, and Dwayne Harris played some in the slot for rookie Sterling Shepard.
After all, Cruz is going to turn 30, something a reporter pointed out to him Thursday afternoon.
''Don't get crazy on me, my birthday is tomorrow,'' Cruz said. ''I'm only turning 30. Don't give me the age factor just yet. I just think it's more as we get deep into the season we've been bit by the injury bug here, as you guys know, the past few years. We just want to make sure everyone is fresh.''
Cruz says in all honesty he wants to play every down.
''I am a competitor in my own heart, in my own soul, but obviously I listen to the coaching staff and the training staff and they want what is best for me and that is what I adhere to,'' he said.
Before being hurt when Eagles defensive back Leodis McKelvin landed on his ankle, Cruz said he felt his body was at 100 percent all season. With some ice, Cruz hopes to be at 100 percent Monday night, even though he'll have the big three in front of his age.
''Thirty is the new 20 for me,'' Cruz said. ''If you ask me, 30 is the new 20. I am just excited for another chapter of my life. But I still feel great. I still can run with the best of them and run these routes and do what I need to do to make plays. But 30, at least psychologically, makes me feel a little different.''
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