WR Victor Cruz
Q: How's the rehab coming along?
A: It's coming along one day at a time. I'm just making sure I'm doing all the little things it takes to get back to peak professional shape, so I'm just taking my time.
Q: Where are you at in your rehab?
A: I'm 10 weeks out. This past Monday, I made 10 weeks. I'm on the treadmill. I'm not running just yet. I did some light stuff on the trampoline. I'm able to bend it. I get full range of motion. I'm on the elliptical. I'm doing calf raises, leg raises, knee extensions – all the fun stuff that comes along with rehab. I'm pretty much fully mobile, but just not running just yet.
Q: How has it been being out and watching the team play this season?
A: It's been tough being out, obviously, during that span of those games that we lost because you feel helpless, like you want to do something but you can't. But watching Odell has been fun. He's been great. That kid is a heck of an athlete, heck of a ball player. Just seeing the things that he's doing out there is motivating me to come back and be able to play next to him and do some really good things next year.
Q: Have you been able to coach Odell Beckham Jr. up when you've been around?
A: Little things here and there, but more so, I'm trying to coach him up as a person on how to attack this media and this New York area and how to just be someone that's held accountable for your actions and be a good person and things that he's had trouble with that he's confided in me early on. I try to just help him out with that.
Q: What kind of advice do you give someone who has had such sudden stardom?
A: Just stay grounded. Stick with the people… There's going to be a lot of new people reaching for you, tugging for you and trying to be next and close to you. Just stick with the people that brought you here, that took care of you when you were younger, that took care of you when you had nothing essentially. Stay grounded, and I think he's done that so far. He's a good kid and he's really learning on the fly, which is good.
Q: I know Odell is a first round draft pick and you were undrafted, but do you see a little bit of what you went through and what he's going through now?
A: A little bit, especially early on with him not playing a couple of weeks and then trying to find his way in his rookie year and then actually playing and then making a splash the way he did. Yeah, I definitely see some similarities there and it's really fun to see. I'm just excited to get myself together and play alongside that kid next year.
Q: Do you remember having to go through that period where you had a target on your back like Odell went through this past Sunday against St. Louis?
A: Obviously, the St. Louis game wasn't the most fun for me to watch because of how… You can kind of see that they were going after Odell and they wanted to… I don't want to say take him out of the game because that makes it seem like they want to injure him and take him out, but kind of make him a nonfactor, and I definitely had some moments of that in my career so I can definitely relate. But he handled it well. Obviously during that one situation things kind of went astray, but he understands that people are going to be doing that to him and he handled it well, in my opinion.
Q: Do you remember the first time that you had to deal with that type of situation?
A: I can remember the first handful of times, but the one that comes to mind off the top was against Pittsburgh. I believe it was last year where you can just kind of see the little things after whistle, the little things after a tackle or after a play that there was a little extra shove here and there just to kind of make you mad and make you upset. I've been there before.
Q: Did you have to reach out to anyone in terms of your injury and your comeback?
A: I've spoken to a couple of people just in passing. I haven't necessarily reached out to anyone. At certain games, like with Michael Strahan and the game he got honored, he kind of came and spoke to me and said sometimes time away is good to kind of refresh your mind and really realize what you play this game for and spend time with your family that you haven't spent probably in the past two, three years; just certain things of advice that has helped me a lot during this situation. Larry Fitzgerald reached out to me and said some really good things. It's just good. This NFL is a fraternity and it's something that I'll never take for granted ever again.
Q: What did you learn from patella injuries and how long it takes for guys to get back to where they were before?
A: I spoke to a couple of guys actually on the team. Zack Bowman had an injury like this. Marcus Harris had a similar injury years prior and they said it's tedious in terms of the rehab, but they were running again, I think, in about six to seven months. Hopefully I can beat that, but without rushing things. I want to make sure I'm 100 percent with no ailments, with no pain or anything like that when I'm running or when I'm doing all the things I need to do to get back out there on the field. But according to them, they've come back stronger, they've come back faster. They're working muscles that they didn't even know they had in their legs, in their groin, in the quads and things like that. I'm excited for what's to come. I'm excited for how I'll feel once I'm 100 percent, if I'll even be stronger. I'm just excited for that. I've never had an injury where I've been out this long or this strenuous of a rehab. I'm excited to see how far I can push myself.
Q: When do you think you'll be back out on the field?
A: I don't know. It's kind of up to the trainers. I like to put it in those guys' hands to see how far they think I'm progressing, but personally, I'd like to be back by training camp, obviously, so I can get back with the guys and get that work in that I need before preseason and before the regular season starts up again.
Q: Do you have a message to Giants fans about what this offense might be like next season?
A: It's going to be a lot of fun. I don't like to get into next year and start promising things, but when I reach my peak health and I'm 100 percent again and everything is clicking the way it should be and the receiving corps and Eli and everybody is on the same page, it should be a fun offense to watch. I'm excited for the opportunity and I think for me right now, it's just taking it one day at a time.
Q: How have you seen the offense grow since you've been injured? When you left, it seemed very much like a work in progress.
A: It's grown a lot. You can see Eli being a little bit more assertive back there. You can see the receivers… I was just talking to those guys. I'm proud of those guys. They've been working so hard this year, just scrapping and fighting and figuring out a way to win and stay in games and try to win games. I can just see those guys getting more and more comfortable with the offense and it's been fun to watch. It's been fun to watch them grow throughout the season because the early part wasn't too much fun to watch.
Q: Rueben Randle has had a couple of up and down weeks recently. Have you spoken to him?
A: I said some small things to him. I think at the end of the day, he's still adjusting. He's still trying to figure this thing out. He's getting through it one day at a time, but he's made some real progress this year, especially on the football field making some plays and doing some things that we know he can do. He's making some big catches and I think he's grown a lot this year. Obviously, as with anyone, there are ups and downs that you face within any season, whether it be on or off the field. But I think he's done a great job this year of handling himself, being more assertive, especially in the film room. So I'm excited to continue to see him grow.
Q: How has Randle adjusted this season in the offense?
A: He's even reached out to me and I said a couple of words to him and I think he's just a guy that he likes the assertiveness. He likes to feel wanted, to feel like he can go out there and do what he can and has the confidence in his teammates and his coaches that he can go out there and perform. I think he's done that this year and I think he's had a growth from year one to year two.
Q: You're a guy that has a career in celebrating after a touchdown. Do you have any advice for Odell?
A: I don't think he's taunting. In my opinion, he's just doing what he has to do for his football team, scoring touchdowns, and like anyone else who celebrates in the end zone, that's his celebration. That's what he wants to do. I don't think he's taunting. I don't think he's that type of player. I don't think he's the type of guy that would taunt another team, but I think it's just a way of expressing himself - the same way I express myself in the end zone, the same way I express myself when I make a big play such as him when he makes a big play. It's all about expressing yourself in this league.
Q: Was there a point where anyone told you to tone it down or that you're putting a target on your back with your celebrations?
A: No, never. If anything, when I would run into people, especially Hispanic people, they tell me to do it more and more. It was quite the opposite for me.
Q: What did you think of Tre Mason's salsa?
A: At first, I was like I'm not even playing and he's doing my salsa dance? But then later on, I actually asked Odell and I guess him and Odell are friends and he said he did it to pay homage, as a tribute thing, and I moved on.
Q: This is the second season in a row where you've been hurt or missed the end of the season. Is there any doubt in your mind you'll be the player you once were?
A: No. There's no doubt in my mind that I'll return to form and I'll return to the type of player that I was in years past and I'm excited to put myself through this. I've overcome a lot of obstacles and I feel like this is just another one that's come across that I have to conquer it and move forward. I'm excited for this opportunity, but there isn't a doubt in my mind that I'll be back playing and playing like myself again.
Q: Have you learned something about yourself going through this adversity?
A: Absolutely. I've learned patience. I've learned that this game isn't guaranteed for anyone. Just because you've been here a couple of years or you signed a contract, it doesn't mean that this game is guaranteed for you for 10 or however many years you want to play in this game. I think it's something that I didn't take for granted, but I kind of took it as I'm going to go out there and play and it's going to happen week in and week out and when it's taken from you, you really learn something about yourself and what type of person you are, and I know for sure that this game is what I love and what I want to do and I'll never take it for granted again.
Q: With this being Christmas Eve, you've had your moments on this day. Does your mind ever go back to that game against the Jets and how it sent both teams on a different trajectory?
A: I think about it from time to time.
LB Jon Beason
Q: How are you feeling?
A: I am feeling great. Today is a good day. I just got out of my boot this morning, a little early Christmas present. The boot is definitely bad for the outfit, done with that and moving forward. Things are looking up.
Q: How important is it for you to not be defined by this issue? You talked in the past about injuries and how they set you back and you don't want that. Is it important for you in your mind to address that?
A: I think when you come into the NFL, you set huge goals for yourself. I think I was well on my way to accomplishing those goals. As you go, the story gets a little rough. You have these injuries and these setbacks and end up becoming a Giant. Going through all of the adversity, you keep blaming it on your feet. I think it is part of life, we all deal with our struggles. Really, what you do in the bad times defines who you really are. For me, I have learned to embrace it and use it as an opportunity to do something big.
Q: What have thought watching the defense, particularly Jameel McClain taking over you role, and the way Devon Kennard has played?
A: I think Jameel McClain has done a great job, first off. It is a lot of pressure to be a mike linebacker. A lot of times when things go well, you don't necessarily get the praise for it. When things go bad, you usually take the blame for it. It is kind of like being a quarterback. He has done a great job, he has the personality for it. He's made some huge plays for us. He is going to be a big part of what we are doing next year. I think it is something we can build off of. It has been nice to see the guys continue to fight, not literally fight, but things were bad, we could've tanked five-six weeks ago, and it could've gotten worse. The guys stayed the course. We are a Tom Coughlin-coached football team. We are going to be resilient, we are going to be smart and, for the most part, do it with class.
Q: What was it like to sit there and watch when the defense struggled?
A: Obviously, you wish you can contribute. You want to be the reason why things are going well and not why they are going bad. You look at what the guys are able to do. You sit back and watch the film, and you say, 'it's really a matter of taking ownership and being where you are supposed to be, being accountable.' That was a big thing. You don't give up the huge rushing games we have or in terms of points scored against us. It was pretty bad, and pretty consistently bad for a while, but you step up and you look at yourself first and see how you can get better. I think that is what guys did individually.
Q: Where are you in terms of timeline with your rehab? When do you think you will be back?
A: The prognosis is three to four months, today is eight weeks. Everything is about to increase big time. They say with toes, it is like watching paint dry. So for the first four, five weeks, I was just sitting around with my foot up, stitches are in. Over three weeks, which is a little long, I was on a little scooter, unfortunately. It is going to pick up the next couple of weeks, and based on what Dr. Anderson down in North Carolina has told me, I will be back running around here in the next three to four weeks . We have plenty of time to get ready for the offseason program, OTA's, minicamps, and we will keep moving forward.
Q: Are you going to change up how you train this offseason?
A: I think I have modified a lot of things. You come in as a young guy, you don't know anything. You are just kind of beating your head against the wall going as hard as you can, as often as you can. I have learned to be smart with how I train. Recovery is huge. I just think that is a part of it. The difference is that in my position; it is a tough man position. It is blue collar as a linebacker, and you play every down. You don't rotate like a defensive tackle or a defensive end, or certain packages. You are out there every play. If you are going to play at a high level, often you have to be in the best shape, in my opinion. There is fine line between in the best shape and overtraining. With the injuries I have had, I have to definitely modify what I do. Moving forward, I will definitely come back and still have been myself. I think still I possess that special skillset if I can go out and make a lot plays.
Q: Was this a good-as-new surgery, or was this something that you are going to have to monitor and deal with?
A: Nope, I think it was straight forward. It was involved, but it was straight forward. It makes perfect sense; right away, I have the push of strength. I can feel my toe when I walk now. It is not a matter of basically walking around like that. That is how I was attempting to play. Your big toe does everything; the other four just stabilize it. Like Ronnie Lott, we can cut those off and keep rolling but I need that big toe. I have that back, so I am happy about that.
Q: The organization gave a commitment to you last off season. Do you have a sense that any of that has changed? Do you feel like this is just year two of the same commitment?
A: I would hope so. I have been around long enough to know that it is a business and sometimes you have to address those issues when they come up. So far, we are geared for year two of a three-year contract, and I fully expect to hold up my end of the deal. Go out, lead, and be the best linebacker, and teammate I can be.
Q: Will you train here in the offseason?
A: Anytime you have surgery, you have obligations in terms of rehab. I am expecting to be here early in January. There is still some rehab I want to do back with the specialist in North Carolina. We don't have to officially be here until mid-April. I will be here just like any other offseason.