The return is coming.
Since suffering a season-ending knee injury nine months ago, Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz has been doing all that he can to get back on the field and be the same player who has nearly 4,000 yards in 55 games and averages 15 yards per catch.
And when he does, he will be one of the best again in the NFL.
Despite the setback, NFL.com recently ranked Cruz at No. 4 among the league's top slot receivers, one spot ahead of Cleveland's Andrew Hawkins and trailing Julian Edelman (New England), Emmanuel Sanders (Denver) and Randall Cobb (Green Bay).
"When healthy, Cruz is nearly impossible to defend, given his electric playmaking ability and superb route-running skills," NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks wrote. "If he can return to form following a season-ending patellar-tendon tear, Cruz could re-emerge as the No. 1 guy on this list. The Giants take advantage of his explosive skill set by routinely getting him the ball quickly on an assortment of catch-and-run plays.
"Cruz freezes linebackers and nickelbacks with a crafty stutter-step move at the top of slant routes, allowing him to get into voids over the middle of the field. With Cruz also possessing a variety of hesitation moves on stick routes, defenders are unable to handle his shiftiness in one-on-one matchups."
At the end of minicamp in mid-June, Cruz gauged himself at "a little over 80 percent" heading into the final six-week period before training camp, which is rapidly approaching and will open July 30 at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
From simply walking to jogging in a straight line to cutting and running routes, Cruz hit personal milestones over the last nine months, the final hurdle being strength.
"Just continue to get the leg stronger, continue to get the muscles around the knee stronger and taking it from there," Cruz added. "So that's the biggest thing right now, and then just continuing to run routes so I can get my body acclimated to running routes again and we go from there."