Cruz can't wait to play with Beckham, no doubts about returning from knee surgery

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EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey — Watching rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. running past and around opponents is fueling Victor Cruz's comeback from knee surgery.

Cruz on Wednesday said that his rehabilitation from patella tendon surgery more than two months ago is progressing and that he hopes to start running soon.

The dynamic Giants wideout known for his salsa-dancing after touchdowns can bend his right knee, has full range of motion and is doing calf raises, leg raises, knee extensions and all the fun stuff that comes along with rehab.

The real fun has been watching Beckham and thinking about them being a dynamic one-two combination for quarterback Eli Manning in 2015.

"He's been great," Beckham said. "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."

Beckham has become the catalyst of the offense since Cruz was injured on Oct. 12 against Philadelphia. After missing the first four games of the season with a hamstring injury, the 12th pick overall in the draft has 79 catches for 1,120 yards and 11 touchdown catches — all team rookie records.

This is the second straight season that Cruz did not finish the season because of a knee injury. He played in 14 games last season and only six this year, finishing with 23 catches for 337 yards and one touchdown.

Even tougher was watching the Giants (6-9) struggle through a seven-game losing streak that started in the game in which he was hurt.

"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," Cruz said. "But watching Odell has been fun."

Cruz, a former free agent who like Beckham developed a huge fan following with his play, has told the rookie to stay grounded, keep the same inner circle that he has always had and turn away the new people trying to horn in.

"He's a good kid and he's really learning on the fly, which is good," Cruz said.

Cruz does not have a timetable for getting back on the field. When the trainers tell him to play, he'll play. Patience is his new friend.

The 28-year-old has spoken to many people about coming back from his injury.

Hall of Famer Michael Strahan told him to enjoy his time away from the game. Teammates Marcus Harris and Zack Bowman said they returned from patella surgery stronger and faster than before it.

Cruz knows there are people who have concerns about players who are injured two seasons in a row and he was ready when a reporter asked about whether he had concerns about returning at 100 percent, calling him 'a doubter.'

"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," Cruz said. "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."

Cruz said the injury has taught him that nothing is guaranteed in football.

"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," he said.

NOTES: RB Rashad Jennings has been named the winner of the 14th annual George Young Good Guy Award, as voted on by the Giants' chapter of the Professional Football Writers of America. The award, named for the late Giants general manager, is given annually to honor a Giants player for his consistent and outstanding cooperation with the writers who cover the team on a daily basis. ... Rookie LB Devon Kennard did not practice Tuesday because of a toe injury.

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