We may have seen the last of Victor Cruz, at least the one we have come to know.
The Giants receiver had surgery Monday to repair a torn patellar tendon in his right knee -- an injury suffered Sunday night as he tried to catch a pass against the Eagles -- and will be placed on injured reserve for the rest of the season. Statistics show he almost certainly will be ready to play when the 2015 season begins, but expert anecdotal evidence says he will never be the same player again.
"While it heals after surgery, it's a very difficult injury for a speed guy to come back from," said Dr. Craig Levitz, chairman of orthopedic surgery at South Nassau Communities Hospital and chief of sports medicine. "I don't recall a speed player that has made it back anything close to their former self. He will be ready to play next season, but he may not be good enough to play after he heals."
The patellar tendon connects the shinbone with the quadriceps through the kneecap. It controls the amount of bend in the knee. Surgery requires a large incision, and the leg must be locked straight to heal, which causes the quadriceps to atrophy. Strengthening exercises can begin in three months and full healing takes at least six months.
A 2011 study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine looked at 24 NFL players who tore a patellar tendon. Nineteen returned to play at least one game. They averaged 45.4 games, or roughly three more seasons. The study concluded that surgery "generally produces good functional results and allows for return to play the following season."
Cruz was transferred Monday morning from Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia to the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. Further evaluation showed no other damage to the knee.
"Victor is a very, very positive and popular young man who has meant a lot to this franchise," Tom Coughlin said. "He's got a tough road ahead of him. He's been challenged his whole life, and I don't see him backing down from any challenge whatsoever."