Aah, the Salsa man himself, finds himself in a position to return to the Giants next season without a shadow of a doubt. The real question is whether Cruz and his agent can work out a long-term deal with the Giants or if he will play out the 2013 campaign on a one year tender. The real question regarding Cruz is about his durability; yes, he played through most injuries last year, playing in 15 out of 16 games. However, he seemed to be dealing with a new nagging injury every week and hasn’t figured out the best way to avoid excessive contact just yet, which is a skill that can add years to a receiver’s career.
Last year alone, Cruz dealt with a shoulder bruise/strain, bruised ribs, calf muscle strain, and knee sprain throughout the season. Two of the ailments (bruised ribs and knee sprain) were products of vicious hits by Steelers safety Ryan Clark and 49ers defensive back Carlos Rogers, which points to Cruz’s difficulties protecting himself either over the middle (which could be an Eli Manning issue as well) or while scratching for extra yards.
Nonetheless, all 4 injuries he dealt with last year seem minor in nature and should not nag him as the new season comes about. But keep two things in mind when it comes to Cruz for this upcoming season:
- It’s not a recurring, nagging issue by any means, but when someone has a history of muscle strains or pathology to the muscles required for burst/quickness/explosion (hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, abdominals), they do become slightly more susceptible to it happening again. Not to say Cruz is a high risk or anything, but just put that in the memory bank in case something muscular in nature pops up next season
- Not to belabor this point, but bruised ribs can turn into something that significantly affects a player during the course of the season if it’s severe enough, so when you have someone who takes big hits numerous times over the course of the season, you have to worry about their longevity long-term in addition to their ability to handle a 17-week season, year in and year out. Again, from a physiological standpoint, there’s not much to worry about at this time. But just keep this in mind if he suffers another rib contusion next year because it could end up being worse than before.
So, what about Cruz’s 2013 fantasy outlook? From an injury standpoint, he’s no more than a minor risk, but you can honestly make that argument about 75% of the offensive players out there. He still stands to be a top 10 fantasy threat at WR, especially if Hakeem Nicks can bounce back and have a healthy season to help take double coverage away from Mr. Salsa. All-in-all, expect another dynamic season from Cruz.