EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.** – Victor Cruz is getting antsy.
The Giants' outstanding wide receiver, slowly but steadily working his way back from major knee surgery, did not join his teammates today for the first organized team activity (OTA), essentially a practice in which the players are not permitted to wear pads. Cruz ran some routes on the side while his teammates ran drills and plays.
"Yeah, I am itching," Cruz said. "I can't lie. I am itching. I am running routes and feeling good, but I know there is still a process and I am still a little ways away in terms of strength-wise and things like that. It feels good and watching those guys run routes and catch balls, I am definitely itching to get back out there."
Cruz tore his right patellar tendon last Oct. 19 in Philadelphia. The tendon was repaired in surgery and the rehab has been long and arduous. The Giants' athletic trainers have been cautious with Cruz, and the progress has been continual.
"(Things) are going well," Cruz said. "I moved into running more routes and running some more patterns. Feeling more confident in that regard. It is feeling really good right now.
Check out the best photos from the first day of the Giants' OTA practices
"I think the guys are just going to take it slow. I think I am going to do some individuals later on. I think sometime in June and then we will take it from there."
Cruz's coaches and teammates have been energized by his development.
"He has progressed," coach Tom Coughlin said. "He is beyond the straight-ahead stuff. He has started to maneuver and cut. He has come along well."
"It's good to see his progress these last months," quarterback Eli Manning said. "Seeing him out there cutting, running routes, doing drills is always good. Hopefully, he'll continue to get stronger and stronger so he can be back for the start of the season."
- Manning was asked about another recovering teammate, left tackle Will Beatty, who underwent surgery last week to repair a torn pectoral muscle suffered while weightlifting.
"Whenever you lose your left tackle, it's disappointing," Manning said. "Hopefully, he'll have a speedy recovery. We have other guys who can step in and be comfortable where they're playing. We'll get through it. We'll get the rookie (top draft choice Ereck Flowers) going and get him a lot of practice."
- Coughlin said defensive end Robert Ayers left practice after hurting his ankle and knee...Safety Nat Berhe (calf) and linebacker Devon Kennard (ankle) did not participate in the team portions of practice.
Coughlin said the team has communicated with defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who has not attended the voluntary workouts. The coach said he expects JPP to be here for the team's mandatory minicamp next month.
- The offseason program began on April 20 and Manning said the time since then has been vital in helping him better understand the offense coordinator Ben McAdoo installed last year.
"It was important having this last month – watching the film, talking a lot about the mechanics, the footwork, begin able to go outside with him and working on a lot of drill work," Manning said. "A lot of it is stuff I wasn't able to do last year. I was coming off the ankle surgery, I had a new offense – of lot of things going through the mind, trying to figure out concepts. This year, I understand the concepts. I'm still working on it, but I'm concentrating on the footwork and the mechanics and the timing of everything. It was great to have that this year and kind of get back to the basics of everything. I feel comfortable, I feel real good right now and I'm excited about what we can do with this offense."