Cruz practiced Wednesday for a second straight day (this time in full pads) after struggling with a groin injury for the past two weeks. He again carried a substantial workload. Cruz caught three passes on his first three snaps during live drills, and later made a touchdown grab during a red zone drill.
Just being on the field and making plays is an accomplishment after Cruz missed most of the past two years with knee and calf injuries and struggled to remain healthy earlier this summer. But he's actually producing this week working again exclusively with starting quarterback Eli Manning.
"Victor looked great," offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said. "He's had two strong days, got a lot of balls thrown to him getting back into the mix of things. So excited about where he's at and hopefully he'll have his opportunities [Saturday] against the Jets."
Cruz's touchdown catch Wednesday came out of the slot against cornerback Bennett Jackson. Cruz ran a corner route and snagged the feathery pass from Manning in the back of the end zone. It was his first touchdown in live drills this year.
"Really nice catch that you saw at the end of practice," Sullivan said.
The speed and explosion may not totally be back, but just being on the field for consecutive days is an accomplishment at this point. The next step is getting into Saturday's preseason contest against the Jets.
It's all part of the process. Sullivan said he saw "visions of 2011" in terms of Cruz's quickness off the line.
"Obviously that is something to be excited about," Sullivan said. "Again, we're just progressing and hoping for the best. Not trying to get overly excited or put too much pressure and just taking it one day, one rep at a time. And he certainly showed some flashes for sure [Tuesday]."
And Wednesday, too. The hope is that he can gradually improve up until and through the regular season.
Eli Apple making noise
The Giants have made an effort to give top pick Eli Apple first-team reps all summer. They've even had cormerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie play in the slot a lot as a result.
The reason is that Apple has come along faster than the Giants expected. They thought he was raw, and it might take some time for him to get accustomed to the NFL game.
"He's been another young guy that has developed really well for us, and quicker than maybe we expected," defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. "I know always when you're drafting in the first round the expectations are way up here. Sometimes I think they are unfair. When he stepped in the first day it was evident he can handle what comes with that."
Apple admitted he's not quite 100 percent yet after injuring his leg and knee in the preseason opener. But he's back at practice this week and made a play on Wednesday.
Apple made a leaping interception in the end zone that he ripped away from the receiver.
He wasn't impressed though. Apple said there was offsides on the play. It wouldn't have counted.
The safety rotation
Behind starters Darian Thompson and Landon Collins the Giants safeties remain "in flux," according to Spagnuolo. Nat Berhe appears next in line but they still need to see how everything unfolds in the final few preseason games before it's determined who will be options if Thompson is not ready for Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys.
Jackson, buried on the depth chart most of the summer, has been moved to slot cornerback. He appears to be a longshot for a roster spot.
LaCosse and Johnson did work on a side field with trainers.
Left Practice: TE Larry Donnell (N/A). Donnell walked inside with a trainer a few minutes before the workout ended. It did not appear serious.
There was a heated fight during Wednesday's practice. It appeared to be between offensive lineman John Jerry and either defensive lineman Montori Hughes and/or Mike Rose. All appeared heated as most of the players on the sideline jumped in to break up the scuffle. … Defensive tackle Damon Harrison tossed 305-pound offensive lineman Adam Gettis several feet in the air during run drills. Harrison has really stood out in a positive way for the Giants this summer. ... Coach Ben McAdoo and special teams coordinator Tom Quinn were furious with the kickoff return team during drills. They questioned the teams' pride for their effort during that specific drill.