When New York Giants wide recover Sterling Shepard tore his ACL last year in the Week 3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, many thought they had seen the last of him in a Giants uniform.
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Even though Shepard has played in only 10 games since the end of the 2020 season due to various injuries, he’s back with the Giants this season and looks like he hasn’t missed a beat.
Both Giants general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll wanted Shepard back this offseason and re-signed him to a one-year deal.
Schoen even admitted that Shepard was one of his favorite players of all time, citing Shepard’s upbeat attitude and ability to raise morale among his teammates, even on crutches.
At camp this year, Shepard — now fully healed — has been impressive in the drills he has been allowed to participate in. With a glut of talent at receiver, especially in the slot, he has done nothing to cede his place on the depth chart.
Sterling Shepard was cooking 🧑🍳
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) August 14, 2023
Daboll said on Wednesday that it’s time for the training wheels to come for Shepard in his comeback bid.
“It’ll be good to get him out there, get some live action. It’s always different when you can get hit so again, he’s another guy that we’ll talk about here after practice. He’s actually going to get a down day (Wednesday). Just kind of see how he’s feeling, where he’s at relative to his rehab plan and make a decision,” he said.
The truncated workout regimen designed for Shepard hasn’t quelled his enthusiasm and eagerness to get back out on the field with no restrictions.
“He always lobbies,” Daboll said. “He lobbies every practice, but we’ve got to do a good job of taking care of him and he’s come back from a couple of injuries, he’s got a great mindset, he’s a competitor so the training staff has done a good job with his rehab deal.”
The Giants also don’t have to worry about Shepard playing elsewhere. He is the embodiment of the ‘Once a Giant, always a Giant’ credo.
“I don’t want to play anywhere else,” Shepard told the New York Post. “I want to retire a Giant. So yeah, I don’t think I would go play anywhere else. I do burn to play, and that’s a tough question, because I feel like I still have something in the tank and this is what I love to do.
“Fortunately, I never had to sit down and make that decision. I hope I’m never forced to make that decision. I’ve given this place everything I have every time I step on that field.”
The injuries have piled up over the years but Shepard still has some gas left in the tank. The Giants know that, and if they manage him right, he can help this team win both on and off the field. It has been his dream since he was selected in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft.
Shepard had been a steady contributor over the first five seasons of his career. Now he’s getting one more shot at his dream at the age of 30. It’s looking like he just might succeed.