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Cruz says repaired knee should be ready for OTAs

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)

Victor Cruz believes there was a bit of a `disconnect' between Eli Manning and his receivers in this season where the New York Giants' offense failed to live up to the preseason hype.

Talking to the media for the first time since having surgery on his left knee Dec. 19, Cruz said that the lengthy negotiations that got him a new contract in July, and fellow receiver Hakeem Nicks' decision to work out on his own went a long way in creating the gap between Manning and the receivers.

''I think that's the one thing we lacked, was kind of that continuity from a receiver standpoint with our quarterback,'' Cruz said Friday. ''And I want to build that earlier this year, whether he have to set some time apart with the receivers and Eli whenever he's ready and schedule it right so we can build not only on the field but off the field.''

Cruz, who stood without the aid of crutches, said his knee should be healthy in roughly two months. He intends to take the recovery slowly so he does not come back and play tentatively. The four-year veteran expects to take part in the Giants' organized team activities, which started in April this past season.

The important aspect this offseason will be working out more with Manning, who has thrown a career-high 26 interceptions.

''We want to get to know each other more and stuff like that,'' said Cruz, who finished the season with 73 catches for 998 yards and four touchdowns. ''I feel like there was a little bit of a disconnect there that we want to get back for this football team.''

Cruz, who was hurt against Seattle on Dec. 15, hopes that Nicks and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride will both return next season.

Nicks, the Giants' first-round draft pick in 2009, has had a disappointing fifth season. Heading into the season finale against Washington on Sunday, he has failed to catch a touchdown. He will be a free agent after this season.

''Obviously I understand the business side of it, because I just went through that myself,'' said Cruz, who signed a five-year, $43 million contract extension this summer, causing him to miss this past seasons OTAs. ''I understand what he is going through.''

If Nicks signs with another team, Cruz said he is ready to handle a bigger load. He admits he was disappointed being limited to four TD catches.

Gilbride has come under fire because the offense, which has been slowed by multiple injuries on the offensive line, is ranked 30th of 32 in the league.

Nicks plans to discuss his future with the Giants next week said. While he said he wants to stay, he added that money might not be the stumbling block in contract talks.

''We aren't talking money, it's bigger than that in my eyes,'' Nicks said, indicating that he doesn't want to see changes in the offense.

The Giants could put a franchise tag on Nicks and have him under contract for another year, but the question is would they do that for a player who did not produce in a walk year.

''I understand the business,'' Nicks said. ''There won't be no negative vibe or bad blood whatever they decide.''

Finishing 2 yards shy of 1,000 yards receiving did not cost him money, Cruz said.

''I wish I could go back and get them, but things happen,'' Cruz said. ''When I was on the flight to get my surgery, a fan came up to me and said: `Don't worry about those two yards, you still got 1,000 in my book.' That sealed the deal for me. I was like, I knew I didn't need them.''

NOTES: G Brandon Mosley (hand), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) and TE Adrien Robinson (knee) were declared out for Sunday's game. ...Mosley was having surgery Friday on the hand he broke last weekend. Pierre-Paul missed the final five games. RBs Andre Brown and Peyton Hillis are probable after suffering concussions in the last two weeks.

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AP NFL website: - http://www.pro32.ap.org

Tagged: Giants, Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz

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