One week ago he was hobbling about on crutches his heavily scrutinized left heel in a walking boot. But on Tuesday Victor Cruz walked only with swagger.

The Giants’ star receiver who suffered a left heel bruise last Sunday continues to make a swift recovery. The crutches and walking boot were gone on Monday and on Tuesday Cruz said he “absolutely” expects to play in the opener in Dallas on Sept. 8.

Even better for a Giants offense that has struggled throughout the preseason he could begin practicing with the team as early as next week. “Potentially” he said of his hope to practice next week. “In my mind that’s a day that I’m targeting. So I’m going to work diligently this week while the team’s away and focus on getting myself right and ready to practice potentially by next week.”

“Dallas is definitely a target for me and I knew I needed to be ready for that date” he added. “Now that the boot’s off and I’m feeling good I still have some time to recuperate. It feels good.”

Cruz indicated that he is feeling much better than he was on Aug. 18 when he left the Giants’ preseason loss to the Indianapolis Colts midway through Big Blue’s opening drive. The Giants’ $45 million receiver had landed awkwardly while trying to catch a deep ball and he was instantly taken to the locker room. Two days after that he stood before the media on crutches and in that walking boot and even as everyone seemed so concerned he called it a “short setback.”

He’s spent the last week proving it working through a rigorous rehab. He said he’s gone through “a bunch of different” treatments everything from ice to heat to picking up marbles with his feet. Most of it has been focused on curtailing the swelling that once plagued the foot but Cruz said that has dissipated in recent days. “Just the swelling in the morning when I first put my foot down that’s about it” he said. “Other than that once I get going and I get it warmed up it seems to loosen up a little bit and feel better.

“We still want to take it easy and take it one day at a time but it’s starting to feel a lot better.”

And that has Cruz feeling much better about the Giants’ entire team. Yes he knows the defense has been plagued by injuries and the first-string offense has struggled so much that Tom Coughlin plans to put it out there for 12-15 plays in Thursday’s preseason finale in New England.