- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Your daily morning check-in on news and issues about and of interest to the New York Giants.
The news of the day: The Giants are off today, but they had a short practice Monday morning, and the big news was of course the return of wide receiver Victor Cruz to the practice field after two missed weeks due to a heel bruise. Talking to Cruz after practice, you couldn't be 100 percent sure he'd be playing Sunday night in Dallas, but all of the signs are encouraging. We will, of course, monitor this throughout the week. If he's practicing Wednesday and Thursday, you're probably OK to put him in your fantasy lineup. ... Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, recovering from back surgery, also worked some in practice, but he seems less likely to play in the opener. Same with fullback Henry Hynoski, whose return is vital to the run game with the offensive line banged up. ... Speaking of fantasy, here's a post from Tom Carpenter on Giants No. 3 receiver Rueben Randle as a potential sleeper in 2013.
Behind enemy lines: As they prepare to face the Giants in Sunday night's season opener, the Dallas Cowboys are having serious problems with their defensive line. That's a strong unit if the four starters are healthy, but right now they're not. Jay Ratliff is definitely out, and as of now it looks as though it'll be a stretch for Anthony Spencer to play in the opener. They are crucial elements to the Cowboys' pass rush, and while DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher still pose significant threats, it's easier to defend those guys when you only have backups to worry about at the other two spots. Welcome news for a banged-up Giants offensive line.
Around the division: The Washington Redskins announced that quarterback Robert Griffin III, who had reconstructive knee surgery in January, would start their Monday Night Football season opener six days from now against the Philadelphia Eagles. Griffin didn't practice at all in minicamp or organized team activities, didn't practice in full until very late in training camp and didn't play at all in preseason games, so obviously it'll be fascinating to see how he looks in his first game action since he crumpled on the field in that playoff loss to the Seahawks. Griffin's not the Giants' problem until December, since the Giants don't play the defending champs in the first three months of the season.
Around the league: Not a huge news day Monday. One item of note was the new five-year, $55 million contract the Bengals gave defensive tackle Geno Atkins. The Giants' Linval Joseph is not the same level of superstar player, obviously, but he's a very good one, and you can bet he smiled at the news of a defensive tackle getting a big-money deal as he himself heads into the final year of his four-year, $4.16 million rookie contract. Joseph's salary this year is $630,000.