Giants’ Shepard is hoping to be ready for team’s season-opener

On December 19, 2021, Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard’s season ended after he tore his Achilles tendon against the Cowboys. From there, he had surgery and began rehabbing to get back on the field.

At the start of training camp, the 29-year-old was placed on the active/physically unable to perform list, which limited him to rehabilitating and running routes on a side field away from his teammates.

After weeks of waiting, Shepard finally got out on the practice field with his teammates as he was activated from the PUP list and practiced with the Giants for the first time on Wednesday.

The seven-year veteran, who has not put on pads since the injury, says he’s taking things “day-by-day.”

“Obviously, this is my first day back, and it was a full pad practice,” he said. “I haven’t had on pads since I got hurt. So, it was kind of tough being thrown in the fire with the pads on, but I just have taken it day-by-day, limited kind of in some of the team reps; they’re throwing me in slowly. But I’ll work my way up and get my conditioning and my wind up. I’ve been playing this game since I was six years old, so kind of know what it looks like.”

The season opener is a little over two weeks away for the Giants, and while Shepard is unsure if he will be on the field on September 11 against the Titans, he’s striving to make it happen.

“I’m not sure,” Shepard said about playing Week 1. “That’s a question you have to ask Ronnie(Barnes//Head Athletic Trainer), but that’s what I’m pushing for. That’s what I’ve worked my tail off for, so I’m hoping that’s the case. I just have to keep doing my thing day-by-day, and we’ll see what happens.”

Collin Johnson to IR:

-Shepard is back from an Achilles injury, but another Giant goes on IR due to an Achilles injury. Wide receiver Collin Johnson tore his Achilles tendon in practice this afternoon. Johnson was placed on injured reserve along with fellow wideout Marcus Kemp, who has a hamstring injury.

-In addition, the Giants terminated the contracts of tight end Jordan Akins and wide receiver Robert Foster (hamstring). Foster, who received an injury settlement from the team, was placed on injured reserve last Friday.

-The Giants were awarded three players off waivers, cornerback Harrison Hand(Vikings) and wide receivers Jaylon Moore(Ravens) and Bailey Gaither(Ravens).

Jags’ Minshew: ‘Laviska Shenault Jr. is a freak’

In the 2020 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars wanted to get second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew II more weapons. Jacksonville grabbed Colorado WR Laviska Shenault Jr. in the second round, and in the fifth round, the Jaguars selected Texas WR Collin Johnson. 

Based on what he has seen out of Shenault and Johnson, Minshew is pleased. 

 “Laviska Shenault Jr. is a freak, man,” Minshew said via a video call on Tuesday. “I knew it when we played him at Colorado. I was glad he wasn’t super healthy that game because he changes the game when he has the ball in his hands. He’s really impressed me. He’s a lot better route runner, a lot better at catching the ball than I even expected so I’m really excited for what he’s going to be.

“Collin Johnson, really big guy, doesn’t move like he’s a big guy, he moves really well, smooth and catches the ball really well. Both those guys, they love ball, they love learning, they’re excited to be here, so I’m excited to work with them.”

Coming out of Colorado, some compared Shenault to Falcons star WR Julio Jones. At 6-1, 227 pounds, Shenault has excellent size, and while his 40 time at the combine was not great(4.58), many believe he plays faster than that on the field. Regarding Johnson, he’s long(6-6), and may not be expected to make an impact right away, but the potential is definitely there. You can’t teach height, and Johnson has that.

It’s still very early, and without a preseason, it could be difficult for Shenault and Johnson to get completely comfortable playing NFL football right away. As much as many loathe the preseason, it has its benefits, especially for younger players. No preseason could impact how these young players perform in 2020.