EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – Wide receiver Victor Cruz seemingly is a go for the New York Giants’ season opener at Dallas. The same can’t be said for defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
Both practiced Monday as the Giants started preparations for Sunday night’s game with the Cowboys.
It was the first workout with the team for Cruz since bruising his left heel in a preseason game against the Colts on Aug. 18. He missed the final two exhibition games, but he seemed to run without any problem Monday.
“I was going full speed,” said the dynamic Cruz, who has led the team in receiving the past two seasons. “I wasn’t holding anything back. I don’t play like that, I don’t practice like that. It’s hard to gauge yourself when you don’t go full speed like that. I just took my time and I was out there going full speed and it felt good.”
Cruz worked out for the trainers on Sunday and was given the green light to practice.
“Definitely, it’s good to have all your weapons out there, one of your top receivers,” quarterback Eli Manning said after the practice. “It’s good to get him running around. I’m excited he’ll be back for this opening game.”
Cruz tested his foot in the workout, cutting hard on curl patterns, which forced him to dig his foot into the grass. There was no pain.
The difference on Sunday is that the Cowboys play on an artificial turf. Cruz isn’t sure whether he will go into the Giants’ indoor facility and run on the artificial surface to see how it feels before the game, but he is encouraged and looking forward to playing.
“It’s been awhile since we’ve been all out there healthy and feeling good,” Cruz said. “We’re excited about that. We’re excited to go out there and put a full game together, all of us receivers playing hard, and creating first downs, creating big play opps and doing what we do best. ”
Pierre-Paul’s situation may leave the defense without its top playmaker.
The fourth-year player had surgery on his lower back to repair a disk problem in early June. The 2011 All-Pro didn’t practice until Aug. 26 and has had trouble putting two workouts together without feeling some twinges or stamina issues.
While he was tired after Monday’s practice, Pierre-Paul said he felt good.
“The conditioning part, I got to push myself to do that and that’s what I’m going to do,” he said. “If it means getting extra reps after my reps on the football field, running behind the D-line or whatever, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Pierre-Paul hopes to know by Friday whether he can play, adding that if he takes on double-teams in practice, he probably will play.
“Just coming off back surgery, period, it’s a while, it takes time,” said Pierre-Paul, who had 6 1/2 sacks last season, 10 fewer than in 2011. “It’s something you just can’t rush into and it’s for your health. Right now I’m doing the smart thing and just taking it day by day.
“When I come back, I’ll be fully ready to play,” he added. “We have our rotations, but I’ll be ready to play. It’s all on the coaches, too, how they want to play me.”
If Pierre-Paul plays he will be in a rotation with Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka. If he sits, rookie Damontre Moore may see action or defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins could be moved to the end.
Coach Tom Coughlin said Pierre-Paul’s status might depend on how he feels the day after practices. If he’s sore, that’s a problem. The team worked on his conditioning Monday.
“I think his bursts were good,” Coughlin said. “Now, how many of them, I can’t tell you that, but in a short practice like that, it was well-spirited and he matched up well and he did what I was worried he would do. There’s no pads on and he’s coming like he’s got them on, so that’s a good sign.”
Center David Baas, who sprained his left knee against the Colts, did not practice, so his status for Sunday is uncertain. Kevin Boothe was the starting center against the Patriots in the preseason finale, and James Brewer, a relatively untested third-year player, was the left guard.
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