A torn patellar tendon is one of the worst injuries in sport as, unlike an ACL or MCL, the patellar is at the front of the knee joint and can often leave athletes a shadow of their former selves.
This does not appear to be the case for New York Giants slot receiver, Victor Cruz, who has returned to the field in training camp for the first time since October 12 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Cruz tore the tendon when he went up for a routine end-zone catch but as he planted his right knee, it gave way and he immediately went to the ground clutching his knee in agony.
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ESPN's sideline reporter, Michele Tafoyer, said she had never heard so many screams of pain from one injury.
Fast forward almost eleven months to training camp, and teammates are amazed by the New Jersey-native's recovery - Cruz even wore a Michael Jordan comeback jersey on the first day of camp.
Making an impression
Team mate and Giants lead CB, Prince Amukamara, was one who was staggered by the recovery of his friend, as reported by NJ.com:
"I trained with Cruz for one day down in Arizona ‐ and he just came in for a day because he was in town ‐ and I'm telling you, this guy looked fab... I'm telling you. Remember that I said this. This guy looks faster now than he did before,"
"I was just looking at him and was like, 'Man, how is this possible?'"
This was of course before the full weight of pads were placed on Cruz's shoulders but he has looked just as sharp and his quarterback, Eli Manning has noticed:
"It was probably more of a question about Victor just coming off the injury and he didn’t do anything in the spring, and didn’t know how it would feel, how it looked, and his progress with that. I think he’s looked great out there.
"He’s been out there a bunch, and seems to be feeling good—running his routes the normal way, getting in and out of breaks. So, excited to see that."
"I was thinking Odell [Beckham Jr.]would be back and seems to look fresh and look good out there as well. So I think both guys, as far as I can tell, feel good and look good."
The chemistry between the two that began way back in the lock-out of 2011, ahead of their run to Super Bowl XLVI, has not quite yet returned as Cruz re-familiarises himself with Ben McAdoo's scheme.
"Well, I think it still takes time. Obviously, it’s not new for him but it’s still a fairly new offense. Some new, different routes, different combinations.
"So I think he’s still trying to get back in the flow of things. It’s been a while since he’s been running around out there on the field, seeing things. I think he’s looked good. I missed him yesterday on a route, but we’re getting very close."
With both Cruz and Odell Beckham almost at 100 percent, the Giants will have one of the most dynamic receiving trios in the NFL as the overshadowed Reuben Randle looks ready for his best year after a break-out second half of 2014.
"(Randle) has been working hard, has done everything we've asked of him, so I feel good moving forward," said Giants receivers coach Sean Ryan.
"To me, the past is the past and we're looking at 2015 and what's in front of us. Lessons have been learned, and I expect nothing but the best of him this year."
Randle feels the same way as he looks to improve his play amongst the talented receiving unit:
"I just want this team to make plays, man. That’s pretty much it. I want to get better and make as many plays as possible— as long as I continue to do that, then everything is going to be okay.
"On paper I think we’re all exciting, but it’s all about making sure we understand what we want to do and have an understanding of this offense so that we can play together well and help this offense move."
Randle may well benefit from the media hype surrounding Cruz and Beckham, as well the new additions of Dwayne Harris and James Jones and therefore make his third NFL season his best yet.
Randle is set for very big year, and MetLife Stadium cannot wait for the return of the salsa and the chance to chant 'Cruuuuuz' as the Giants' are primed for one of the deadliest receiving units in the league