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Victor Cruz optimistic about returning to field Sunday


WR Victor Cruz is confident he will play in Sunday's matchup with the Bears:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – This time, it looks like Victor Cruz's absence from the Giants' lineup will last just one game.

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Cruz, who infamously missed 26 games in 2014-15 with knee and calf injuries, said today he will be good to go when the 6-3 Giants host the Chicago Bears Sunday in MetLife Stadium. He missed the Giants' 21-20 victory against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday after spraining his ankle the previous week vs. Philadelphia.

"The injury is doing well," Cruz said. "I practiced today and everything feels good. I was running around, making some plays, so everything is feeling good."

Cruz was officially listed as limited in practice, but said he worked fully. That's a precursor to expect this weekend.

"Victor played well," offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said of Cruz's practice performance. "He was in the mix with things. We'll see where he's at. I can't comment on what his status is going to be or where he's at, but he was a full participant and we're excited to see how he's able to progress."

Cruz offered his thoughts about his status.

"Sunday at one o'clock, I plan to be out there helping my team win," Cruz said.

In the season's first eight games, Cruz caught 25 passes for 377 yards and a touchdown. But after spending so much time out of uniform the previous two years, he wasn't happy about standing on the sideline Monday.

"It was (tough)," he said. "I mean, obviously you want to play Monday night and go out there with your team and help them win. But it was coach's decision and it probably worked out for the better in the long run."

Rookie Roger Lewis, Jr. started in his place, and caught one pass for two yards. But fellow wideouts combined for 18 catches, 139 yards and two touchdowns.

"Other guys have to be prepared to step up and we have all hands on deck, whatever the cliché you want to use," Sullivan said. "But guys have to be ready and whether it's a Tavarres King, who came up with a big catch for us there in the tight green zone before the fourth down play, or Roger Lewis, different guys getting their opportunity. They just all have to be ready. It's something that is preached and it's good to see that it's coming to fruition."

*Sullivan praised Marshall Newhouse, who began the season as the starting right tackle, missed five games with a calf injury, played as an extra lineman against Philadelphia, and stepped in at left guard vs. Cincinnati.

"From Marshall, there's a versatility as a guy who'd been, for the most part, a tackle since he's been here at least," Sullivan said. "Just being able to go in and not miss a beat in terms of assignments. There's an athleticism that he has that translates well, particularly pulling in a gap scheme. I think when you look at someone that was pressed into service, that responded and that's expected all of our players at every position, has to be ready."

*Giants opponents have scored on a NFL-low 41.9 of their offensive possessions inside the 20-yard line (13 of 31). What's the key to their success?

"It's just defending our territory, basically," defensive end Olivier Vernon said. "You never want to have it fall on us where you give up points. We take a lot of pride in that, our defense as a whole. It's still something we have to work on. We gave up a touchdown this past game in the red zone. That's not up to our standards."

*Vernon was asked what he has learned from playing with Jason Pierre-Paul.

"That's one hell of a teammate right there," Vernon said. "Just as far as his preparation. He never complains about anything, despite everything he's had to battle. He goes out there and makes plays. All you could do is respect that. He comes in the building and works hard. He works hard in practice each and every day."

*Three Giants did not practice today, including one newcomer to the list in running back Orleans Darkwa (lower leg). He was joined by guard Justin Pugh (knee) and offensive lineman Brett Jones (calf).

Two players who didn't work yesterday joined Cruz on the limited practice list: wide receiver/return specialist Dwayne Harris (toe) and offensive lineman Adam Gettis (calf).

*Four Bears missed practice: defensive linemen Eddie Goldman (ankle) and Mitch Unrein (back), offensive lineman Bobby Massie (back) and defensive back Deiondre' Hall (ankle).

*With three offensive linemen not practicing or limited, the Giants today lineman signed Shane McDermott to their practice squad. McDermott was on the squad from Sept. 4 until his contract was terminated on Sept. 21. He first joined the practice squad a year ago to – Nov. 17, 2015 – and stayed through the remainder of the season.

To make room for McDermott, the Giants terminated the practice squad contract of wide receiver Da'Ron Brown.

Photos from the all-time series between the Giants and Bears

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