Cruz says repaired knee should be ready for OTAs

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.

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