The countdown to Victor Cruz's comeback has been aborted yet again.
The wide receiver was expected to participate in his first full-length practice with the Giants on Wednesday and to gear up for his return to regular-season action Sunday at Buffalo, but he was unable to make it through the individual drills early in the workout without aggravating his left calf.
After being sidelined since mid-August with that injury -- and since last October because of a torn patellar tendon -- Cruz could be out for several more weeks before returning to action.
"It sucks, to say the least," fellow Giants receiver Rueben Randle said of the development that deflated a team eagerly anticipating having one of its most popular -- and most productive -- players back on the field.
Cruz was very limited in early drills on Wednesday to which the media was privy. He ran a few routes and caught passes but stayed sidelined for any part of the workout that involved going against a defensive player. As the media left the open portion of the workout, Cruz walked to the sideline with a trainer.
Tom Coughlin issued a brief statement after the workout. "Victor came out and tried to do individuals," he said. "He felt the calf again and that's all he did."
Cruz did not address the media following the practice. The Giants did not issue any formal statement on Cruz's status, but it seems improbable that he will play Sunday. Coughlin has maintained that he will need to practice before he appears in a game.
Randle said he and other receivers could tell early in the drills that something was not right with Cruz.
"You could see a little limp in him when he tried to turn up and run, and we could tell that he wasn't quite ready to play full speed," Randle said. "We were trying to tell him, 'Don't stress it too much.' He's anxious to get back and we didn't want him to hurt it any worse than it is and have him out even longer."
All around the locker room, players expressed similar thoughts to and for Cruz: Don't worry about the burden to come back, and get yourself healthy. Cruz may feel the need to return sooner than he is ready not just for his teammates but for outside interests. Coincidentally, within the hour of the announcement by the Giants that Cruz had the setback, Showtime Sports distributed an email to the media about an upcoming full-length film on Cruz titled "I Am Giant" that promised to document his "rise to stardom and improbable return from injury."
That film debuts Oct. 30. Whether Cruz himself debuts before then remains up in the air.
"I told him that it's a long, long season and just forget the pressure," Prince Amukamara said. "When you're injured and much is expected of you, there is a lot of pressure on you. I told him forget about that and keep his head up."
"It's always frustrating for everybody when you're injured and you want to be out there and it's something that's nagging with a muscle strain," Eli Manning said. "It's not fun for anybody. Hopefully, he can continue to heal up and get out there when he can."
In the meantime, the Giants continue to prepare for the Bills just as they prepared for their first three games: without Cruz.
"I think we're pretty used to it by now," Randle said. "We don't have much time to dwell on it. We have to prepare ourselves for Sunday."