Sterling Shepard

Giants’ Daniel Jones To Start In Week 6

FRIDAY: Jones cleared the protocol Friday. He is no longer on the Giants’ injury report and is set to make his return against the Rams this week.

The third-year quarterback will also have Sterling Shepard available. After missing two weeks with a hamstring injury, Shepard is good to go for Sunday. The injuries Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay sustained against Dallas will shelve them against Los Angeles, however. The team has listed Kadarius Toney and Darius Slayton as questionable for Week 6. Toney managed three limited practices this week, making him a reasonable bet to play.

THURSDAY: Despite getting knocked out of last weekend’s loss to the Cowboys with a concussion, Daniel Jones could be on the field for Sunday’s game against the Rams. Coach Joe Judge told reporters that his starting QB is “on track with everything” as he looks to clear concussion protocol (via ESPN’s Jordan Raanan).

Jones completed five of his 13 pass attempts before exiting Sunday’s loss. Following a helmet-to-helmet hit, Jones stumbled off the field before getting carted to the locker room. Jones is currently in concussion protocol, and he was ruled out of practice on Wednesday. However, he was seen participating in work outs on a side field.

That would seemingly open the door to Jones clearing concussion protocol and playing on Sunday. Even if the QB doesn’t see the field this week at practice, Judge indicated that his starter could still be in the lineup against Los Angeles (per Raanan).

The former first-round pick has had an unremarkable start to the 2021 campaign, completing 64.3-percent of his passes for 1,282 yards, four touchdowns, and only one interception. He’s also added another 197 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. If the 24-year-old isn’t able to play this weekend, Mike Glennon would be under center for the Giants. The veteran made his first appearance of the season in Week 5, completing 16 of his 25 pass attempts for 196 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.

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Giants Rework Sterling Shepard’s Deal

The Giants have converted $5.985MM of Sterling Shepard’s base salary into a signing bonus (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com). The adjustment gives the Giants $3.99MM additional room while increasing Sterling’s 2022-2023 cap charges by $1.995MM. 

Shepard has been a focal point of the Giants’ offense for the last five years, totaling 313 catches for 3,518 yards and 20 touchdowns. He matched his career best in receptions last year (66) in just 12 games, though his 656 yards were down from his usual work. Shepard finished 2020 with 9.9 yards per grab, a number that he’ll look to improve upon this year.

Fellow wideout Darius Slayton and tight end Evan Engram were the only Giants to receive more looks from Daniel Jones (and Colt McCoy) in 2020. Still, Shepard caught more passes than anyone on the team.

Shepard and the Giants will open the 2021 season on Sunday when they take on the Broncos at MetLife Stadium.

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WR Rumors: Jones, Toney, Giants, OBJ

Julio Jones trade rumors first surfaced because the Falcons identified his contract as a way to create much-needed cap space, but later reports indicated the decorated receiver requested a trade out of Atlanta in March. Traded to the Titans for a package headlined by a second-round pick, Jones described his Falcons divorce as mutual.

We discussed everything. We just made the decision,” Jones said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It was just cut and dry. There was nothing toward football; it’s business. So, you just had to accept whatever happens, happens. Like I said, it was a mutual agreement on it. We just split up.”

The 32-year-old wide receiver built a Hall of Fame resume in Georgia and, for a bit this spring, was slated to team with Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts. But this reality never appeared to be on the table. Jones did, in fact, request a trade in March, Ledbetter adds. The All-Pro target said his Atlanta exit did not come about because of the team’s transition from the Dan Quinn era to an Arthur Smith-led staff. The Titans agreed to take on all of Jones’ $15.3MM guaranteed 2021 salary, separating them from the rest of the trade suitors.

Here is the latest wide receiver news from around the league:

  • Odell Beckham Jr. skipped much of the Browns‘ 2019 offseason program and did not work out with Baker Mayfield during the COVID-19-marred 2020 offseason. Beckham was rehabbing an offseason surgery at that point. Despite having torn an ACL Oct. 25 of last year, OBJ joined Jarvis Landry in working out with Mayfield in Austin this week, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal notes. Landry confirmed Beckham was running routes at Mayfield’s workouts, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A lack of chemistry between Beckham and Mayfield has been evident during their 1 1/2 seasons together; extra reps should help ahead of a key season for the former Pro Bowl wide receiver. The Browns, who have seen many veterans stay away from OTAs, will convene for minicamp next week.
  • Kadarius Toney also avoided his team’s OTAs, skipping the Giants‘ pre-minicamp workouts. The first-round pick doing so surprised the team, Dan Duggan of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Toney did not sign his rookie contract until last week but had inked a waiver to protect himself in case of an injury during OTAs. Rookies often work out with their teams before signing their deals. Toney’s four-year, $13.7MM contract is fully guaranteed.
  • Shortly after the Giants selected Toney 20th overall, Joe Judge called Sterling Shepard to discuss his future with the team, per Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. “I thought it was necessary to talk to Shep specifically because when we drafted Toney, the word in the press as he was reading those headlines was specifically he’s a slot receiver,” Judge said. “Which, look, we are not bringing in someone to play one position. I thought it was relevant at the time to contact Shep out of respect for how he is with our program to communicate that with him.” Shepard is the longest-tenured Giant, arriving during the Jerry Reese regime. Although Shepard is signed through 2023, the Giants can create more than $6MM in cap space by moving on from him next year. The sixth-year veteran is expected to play more in the slot, following Kenny Golladay‘s arrival, after working there a career-low 34% of the time in 2020.

Giants Activate Sterling Shepard From IR

The Giants are on track to have their top three wide receivers available Thursday night. They activated Sterling Shepard from IR ahead of their Week 7 game.

Shepard has been out since Week 2 because of turf toe. Should Darius Slayton be given the green light after getting in two limited practices this week, Daniel Jones‘ starting wideouts — Shepard, Slayton and Golden Tate — will be in uniform together for just the second game this season.

Tate missed Week 1, and Shepard left Big Blue’s Week 2 game. Slayton left the team’s Week 6 win but remains a decent bet to play tonight. Shepard has been the least available of the Giants receivers in the team’s post-Odell Beckham Jr.  era. He missed six games last season because of two separate concussions. His return tonight will be a welcome sight for Daniel Jones, who has not played especially well this season.

The second-year quarterback ranks 24th in QBR and has thrown one touchdown pass in the Giants’ past five games. Shepard’s return should help the cause, but the fifth-year wideout (and the Giants’ longest-tenured player) has struggled to stay on the field since signing a four-year, $41MM extension in 2019. In 2018, Shepard established new career-high marks with 66 receptions and 872 yards. The final half of the season will be key for Shepard and Jones’ rapport.

The Giants also promoted wide receiver Alex Bachman and linebacker Trent Harris ahead of their Eagles matchup.

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Giants Place Sterling Shepard On IR

The Giants are placing Sterling Shepard on injured reserve with turf toe, per a club announcement. The move will open up a spot for the arrival of running back Devonta Freeman

Shepard has been a focal point of the Giants’ offense so far this year, reeling in eight grabs for 76 yards off of ten targets. Fellow wideout Darius Slayton and tight end Evan Engram are the only Giants to have received more looks from Daniel Jones in 2020.

The Giants are now facing a season without star running back Saquon Barkley and a three-game stretch (at minimum) without Shepard. The addition of Freeman will help maintain some of their offensive firepower, but this is a Giants team that is clearly in trouble. After falling to the Steelers and Bears to open the year, the Giants will take on the 49ers at home, the Rams on the road, and the rival Cowboys in Dallas.

Without Shepard, the Giants are left with Slayton, Golden Tate, Damion Ratley, and C.J. Board as their wide receivers. They may look to draw from their expanded practice squad for help, where WRs Austin Mack, Binjimen Victor, and Derrick Dillon are at the ready.

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Injury Updates: Rams, Clowney, Brady

Rams wideout Brandin Cooks is set to return from the fifth known concussion of his six-year career. While the veteran has continually been sidelined by the dangerous head injury, he told reporters that his latest concussion didn’t make him consider retirement.

“Absolutely not,” Cooks told ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry. “When it happened, that never went through my mind. Even now, it’s not going through my mind.”

Cooks suffered a pair of concussions in a 25-day span, and he traveled to Pittsburgh twice to meet with the director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program. Following those meetings, Cooks felt comfortable returning to the field.

“One of the biggest things that I learned, concussions is a case-by-case thing,” said Cooks. “Mine was very unique, and just thankful once again to be able to go and get answers.”

Cooks won’t be the only Rams receiver returning to the lineup. Thiry writes that Robert Woods returned to practice this week after missing last week’s contest due to “personal issues.” The 6-4 Rams will take on the Ravens on Monday night.

Let’s check out some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is a game-time decision after missing three practices this week due to a hip injury, tweets ESPN’s Brady Henderson. Coach Pete Carroll told reporters that Clowney didn’t travel with the team to Philadelphia as he gets his hip checked out. Clowney suffered the injury during Monday’s win over the 49ers. In his first season with Seattle, the 26-year-old has compiled 25 tackles, three sacks, and three forced fumbles.
  • The Eagles will be dealing with injuries of their own, as Lane Johnson is set to miss the matchup against Seattle. The veteran right tackle suffered a head injury during last weekend’s loss to the Patriots, and he remains in the concussion protocol. Rookie first-rounder Andre Dillard will slide into the starting lineup.
  • No surprise here, but NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will play vs. the Cowboys tomorrow. The 42-year-old was listed as questionable on the injury report thanks to an elbow injury. Brady hasn’t missed a game due to injury since the 2008 campaign.
  • Some good news on the Giants injury front: the team announced that wideout Sterling Shepard, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, and offensive lineman Nate Solder have all cleared concussion protocol and will play Sunday against the Bears. Jenkins and Solder both left the Giants’ Week 10 loss to the Jets, while Shepard hasn’t seen the field since Week 5.

Latest On Giants’ Sterling Shepard

After suffering two concussions this season, the Giants sent Sterling Shepard to see a specialist in Pittsburgh for further examination. There’s concern that the wide receiver will miss the remainder of the season or, perhaps, won’t be able to continue playing at all, SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano hears from Shepard’s teammates. 

If you tell me I’ve got to get a hip replacement in 10 years, all right, fine, I’ll deal with that in 10 years,” Golden Tate said on Wednesday. “But if you tell me, ‘Hey, there’s a chance you might not be able to remember a lot of your career, or your childhood, or your children’s childhood? That’s scary, man. It gives me chills.”

Shepard was set to play after a three-week absence, but another round of symptoms led him to pump the breaks on his return. He’s only 26, but some teammates fear that this is the end of the line for Shepard’s NFL career.

This is a serious injury, and in my mind, it requires a serious response,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said on Tuesday. “I think we have to use good judgement and we need to be very deliberate about guys coming back from injuries such as this. At some point, we just have to use our gut.”

The 2-6 Giants will have a bye after their Sunday showdown with the Jets, which could give Shepard time to heal up. Then again, with little to play for this year, it might not make sense for the Giants to activate Shepard under any circumstances.

 

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Evan Engram Getting Second Opinion On Foot

The Giants will send an MRI of tight end Evan Engram‘s foot to Dr. Robert Anderson for a second opinion, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Engram will not play on Sunday against the Jets, reports Ralph Vacchiano of SNY (Twitter link), but he hopes to return soon after that.

Speaking to reporters today, head coach Pat Shurmur didn’t sound overly optimistic on Engram’s status. Shurmur said Engram is currently in a walking boot and called the third-year tight end “day-to-day, week-to-week,” as Dan Duggan of The Athletic tweets. However, Engram says he does not have a Lisfranc injury, tweets Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. For now, New York is calling Engram’s injury a mid-foot sprain, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (Twitter link).

A first-round pick in the 2017 draft, Engram broke out with 64 receptions and 722 yards in his rookie campaign, but fell back to earth in a injury-riddled 2018 season. This year, Engram was once again posting another outstanding year and had been on pace to surpass his previous career highs in catches and yards, but his most recent health issues may prevent that from happening.

The Giants have yet to field their full set of skill position players for a game, and it doesn’t appear that will occur any time soon. Not only is Engram hurt, but wide receiver Sterling Shepard is being sent to Pittsburgh to meet with concussion experts, tweets Vacchiano. Shepard has already been concussed twice this season and hasn’t played since Week 5.

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NFC East Notes: Giants, Solder, Jenkins, Redskins

Stonewalled by the Redskins in Trent Williams talks, the Browns reportedly have interest in acquiring left tackle Nate Solder from the Giants. Solder, however, doesn’t seem to have any interest in leaving New York — not that he’d necessarily have any say in the matter. “I love being here, I love this group of guys and I love this team,” Solder said when asked about the trade rumors, per Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. Solder signed a four-year, $62MM deal with the Giants just last year, but given Big Blue’s 2-5 record, they could conceivably be open to moving the veteran. Cleveland, for its part, seems intent in trading for an offensive tackle before next week’s deadline and has reportedly contacted other NFC East clubs.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • Speaking of Giants who could be on the move in the next week, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY spoke with NFL scouts and executives about what certain New York players could be worth via trade. By all accounts, cornerback Janoris Jenkins is the most likely Giant to be dealt, and Vacchiano speculates the veteran defensive back could reap a third- or fourth-round pick. Linebacker Alec Ogletree, wide receiver Golden Tate, and even tight end Evan Engram could all be candidates to be traded if New York decides to embark on a full rebuild.
  • Adrian Peterson is hoping to face his former team when the Redskins go up against the Vikings on Thursday night football, but he’s currently wearing the “questionable” label for Week 8, as John Keim of ESPN.com tweets. The veteran running back suffered multiple ankle sprains against the 49ers on Sunday, but he told Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link) that he feels “good” and wants to play. Peterson, who’s posted 307 yards on 83 carries this year, was a limited participant at Wednesday’s practice session.
  • Giants wideout Sterling Shepard put in a limited practice today, per Vacchiano (Twitter link). Still, it’s unclear whether he’ll be ready to go when New York faces Detroit on Sunday. Shepard hasn’t played since Week 5 after suffering a concussion, and he’s actually suffered two brain injuries already this year. Given that the Giants aren’t contenders, they may continue to hold Shepard out with his long-term health in mind.

Injury Updates: Rams, Matthews, Giants, Engram

There’s still no official word on when Rams outside linebacker Clay Matthews will return to action, but a realistic return date for him would be after the team’s bye week, head coach Sean McVay told reporters. That would line the veteran up for a Week 10 return on Nov. 10 against the Steelers, restoring one of the Rams’ defensive stars for a second-half push.

While Matthews’ busted jaw heals up, the Rams will face the 49ers in an intrastate matchup on Sunday.

Here’s more on some notable injuries from around the NFL:

  • Giants tight end Evan Engram is dealing with a sprained MCL, a source tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). It’ll be a challenge for Engram to play against the Patriots on Thursday, Schefter hears, which would leave the club with Rhett Ellison, Garrett Dickerson, and Kaden Smith at TE. Meanwhile, wide receiver Sterling Shepard is out and running back Saquon Barkley is considered unlikely to play.
  • 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk suffered an MCL injury on Monday night against the Browns, a source tells NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). The team should know more after an MRI on Tuesday. Juszczyk may not be a household name, but he’s a key part of SF’s offense.