The word used by Tom Coughlin early in training camp to describe Victor Cruz was “rusty.’’ After all the star wideout missed everything the Giants did this offseason staying away because he didn’t have a contract.

Well Cruz has a contract and now he no longer has the rust. Not after he came up with one of the few memorable plays on offense in last night’s 18-13 preseason-opening victory over the Steelers at Heinz Field.

“It’s funny Coach Coughlin came up to me before the game and said ‘I saw you shook some of the rust off these last couple of days in practice you look really good’ ’’ Cruz said. “I guess that was an indicator that I’ve officially knocked off all the rust.’’

“That’’ was a vintage hookup with Eli Manning the sort of eruption that got Cruz a six-year $45.879 million deal. It came with 1:10 left in the first quarter with the game tied at 3-3 and the Giants not doing much of anything with the ball. That all changed on third-and-4 from the Giants’ 43-yard line.

Cruz asked to run a seam route expertly noticed that safety Troy Polamalu was “crashing down’’ expecting a different route. Cruz made a move to the outside hauled in the pass at the Steelers’ 30-yard line and out-ran safety Ryan Clark to the end zone.

“I think [Polamalu] was thinking I was going to break off the route so I just went vertical and Eli threw a great pass to me that I was able to take in for the touchdown’’ Cruz said. “It’s great to be on the same page with your quarterback and Eli and I work hard on that. When things are clicking you really get the results you want.”

After he scored Cruz started his trademark salsa celebration then waved his hands and cut short the dance.

“Yeah it’s just preseason so I didn’t want to two-step I didn’t want to give it the full gambit just yet just because it’s the preseason’’ Cruz said. “The salsa is still going strong.’’

Otherwise it was a brief and nondescript outing for Manning (2-of-5 73 yards one TD). He failed to connect with an open Rueben Randle on a deep ball but did find Randle on a 16-yard hookup. It was a quiet night for David Wilson (five carries 16 yards) and a rough one for Andre Brown who fumbled a pitch-out for a turnover that didn’t sit well with Coughlin. The first teammate to console Brown on the bench was Wilson the second-year back who knows what it’s like to lose the ball and then lose the coach’s confidence.