Victor Cruz entered training camp this season ready to go with no injury restrictions. This was a first for Cruz, who missed all of last season and the majority of the 2014 season due to injuries. Things were looking up for Cruz and his future with the New York Giants.
But then Cruz missed practice because of tightness in his groin. Up until this point in camp, Cruz had not shown any real signs that the old dominant Cruz would be returning either. In his career, Cruz has dealt with serious knee and calf issues, following dominant 2011 and 2012 seasons.
But the truth of the matter is, it has been nothing but a steady decline for Cruz since he first emerged on the scene. 2011 was Cruz’s breakout season. He caught 82 passes for 1536 yards, despite only starting seven games. He also caught nine touchdowns during that year.
He would follow that up with an impressive 2012 season as well, catching another 86 balls for 1092 yards and 10 touchdowns. That year he started all 16 games, compared to the seven the year before. Despite the increase in playing time and a Pro Bowl season, Cruz did see his yards drop by about 450 yards and his catch percentage take a slight dip.
2013 is the year the injury bug hit Cruz, who had his season cut short towards the end of the year thanks to left knee surgery. But his stats were also on a decline that season, as his catch percentage once again dropped a few percentage points. His yards, catches and touchdowns also took a dip.
In 2014, it was Cruz’s right knee that suffered a major injury. This led to Cruz only playing in six games on the season. Since he only played in a handful of games, it is obviously his core stats once again fell. But his catch percentage continued to trend down, as he was down to 56 percent. And that was the last we saw of Cruz in an NFL game. Prior to the 2015 season, Cruz tore his calf muscle and missed the entire year.
And that brings us back to present day. Like I mentioned, Cruz entered camp this year with no restrictions. But he had done nothing to show the old Pro Bowl form was anywhere to be found. But did anyone really expect that to be the case anyway? It has now been three full seasons since Cruz was in his only Pro Bowl, and since that time he has suffered major injuries to both knees and a calf.
The Giants got tired of waiting around, and drafted their next Victor Cruz in the second round of the NFL Draft this season when they selected Sterling Shepard out of Oklahoma with the 40th overall pick. Shepard is very similar to Cruz in his style of play, and is set to start in the slot for the team this year.
Shepard looks to be one of the Giants top receiving options this season. The rookie ended his Oklahoma career with 233 receptions, 3,482 yards and 26 touchdowns. Following an impressive senior year, he looks ready to contribute at the NFL level.
So when all the variables are added up, I have to ask, why is Victor Cruz still on the Giants roster? It is time to move on for the Giants. Cruz is years removed from his best season, and multiple leg related injuries have likely taken away any speed or quickness he once possessed. The team has a replacement who is ready to step into his former role right at the start of the season.
The Giants do not need Cruz and all of his injury questions. His being held out of practice with a groin injury already is just a sign of things to come. The Giants are only giving themselves a headache by holding on to him. Let him go and let Shepard step up and show he can be better than Cruz could dream of being going forward.