Sterling Shepard

NFL Reviewing Concussion Protocol

The NFL and its player’s association have initiated a review of the concussion protocol after Giants WR Sterling Shepard suffered a concussion, yet was allowed to stay in the game last week, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports.

Both the league and union are attempting to figure out what exactly happened on Sunday vs. the Cowboys. Shepard collided with CB Anthony Brown, feel backward and struggled to get up. Shepard waived off the Giants personnel that attempted to get him off the field and Shepard remained in the game.

The NFL has two spotters on the sidelines who are on the lookout for signs that a player has a concussion during a game. Shepard somehow evaded these officials, Schefter writes, and did not miss a play on Sunday. Shepard clearly suffered a concussion, as he has been ruled out in Week 2 because of the ailment.

NFC East Rumors: Long, Redskins, Cowboys

Let’s look at the latest from the NFC East, starting with how the Eagles attempt to fill the void Malik Jackson‘s injury created.

  • Jackson going down wounded one of the NFL’s top defensive lines, and it prompted Doug Pederson to address whether or not the Eagles and Chris Long had been in contact. The defensive end retired, in part because there would not be as much playing time to go around this season. But even with Jackson’s injury, Pederson said the Eagles were focused on adding a defensive tackle, Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. “We’re pretty deep at D-end right now so just the D-tackle spot,” Pederson said. The Eagles signed former Dolphins starter Akeem Spence to help on their interior. Jackson has worked as a 4-3 end, 4-3 tackle and 3-4 end but was a tackle in Philadelphia’s scheme.
  • The Redskins have declared Jonathan Allen out for their Week 2 game. He suffered an MCL sprain Sunday and is considered week-to-week, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). There is a chance Allen returns for Week 3 or Week 4, with ESPN.com’s John Keim classifying this as a grade 1 sprain (Twitter link). The third-year defensive end missed 11 games as a rookie but re-emerged with a 16-game 2018 season.
  • Moving to a third NFC East team’s defensive front, Taco Charlton has yet to reward the Cowboys for their first-round investment in him two years ago. Despite Robert Quinn being suspended, the Cowboys made Charlton a healthy scratch against the Giants. A trade would not surprise Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams, with the veteran Cowboys reporter noting the team may still be looking for a safety. The Cowboys are the only known team to contact the Dolphins on now-available Minkah Fitzpatrick.
  • Washington placed Derrius Guice on IR earlier Friday but will not make that move with Colt McCoy. The backup quarterback is progressing to the point a return in advance of Week 4 is realistic, Keim tweets. Dwayne Haskins served as Case Keenum‘s backup Sunday; a McCoy return may shift Washington’s first-round passer to a more developmental role. McCoy also figures to work as a mentor-type figure for the young quarterback.
  • Sterling Shepard remains in the Giants‘ concussion protocol and will miss Sunday’s game against the Bills. The Giants also have Cody Latimer listed as questionable. New York brought back T.J. Jones this week and is set to deploy its lowest-profile receiving corps since the midseason games Shepard and Odell Beckham Jr. missed in 2017.

Giants Re-Sign WR T.J. Jones

Sterling Shepard is uncertain for Sunday’s Week 2 Giants-Bills game, so Big Blue is turning back to recently released receiver. The Giants brought back T.J. Jones on Wednesday.

Jones was with the Giants during the preseason but did not make their 53-man roster. In moving him to the roster now, the Giants placed outside linebacker Kareem Martin on IR.

While Jones has experience as a receiver and return man from his Lions run, the Giants may need him as a pass catcher Sunday. Shepard is in concussion protocol and did not participate in Wednesday’s practice, and Golden Tate‘s suspension runs three more games. The Giants are down to former Broncos backups-turned-second-year Giants Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler, along with fellow Year 2 Giant Russell Shepard.

Playing behind Tate and Marvin Jones in 2017, T.J. Jones established career highs in receptions (30) and yards (399). T.J. Jones caught 19 passes for 190 yards in 15 games last season.

The Giants signed Martin to a three-year, $15MM deal in 2018. One of James Bettcher‘s former Cardinals charges, Martin suffered a knee injury Sunday that Pat Shurmur indicated (via Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com, on Twitter) would take weeks to heal. The sixth-year pass rusher has notched just 1.5 sacks in 17 Big Blue games. Martin will be eligible to return after eight weeks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sterling Shepard Fractures Thumb

Giants camp is not off to a great start. One of their top weapons will be out for a while. The team announced Sterling Shepard fractured his thumb on Thursday.

While the fourth-year Giants wide receiver will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis, he will certainly miss some time. It is not certain if the recently extended talent will need surgery. The early word is Shepard’s Week 1 status will be in question, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.

Shepard signed a four-year, $41MM extension earlier this year. The team committed to him after trading Odell Beckham Jr. While Shepard and Golden Tate form a solid wideout duo, the Giants are quite thin behind them. They have former Broncos Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler on board, and sixth-round rookie Darius Slayton showed promise in minicamp. But 2016 Browns first-round pick Corey Coleman profiles as the likely No. 3 wide receiver to start the season. Coleman (five catches in eight Giants games last season) now figures to see extensive time in Big Blue’s starting lineup.

This injury hit the Giants early enough where it’s not out of the question the former second-round pick could be back in time for New York’s opener. Jimmy Graham played through a broken thumb last season, but each injury is obviously different. Shepard finished last season with a career-high 872 receiving yards, his yards-per-reception figure jumping from 12.3 to 16.7 in the games Beckham missed to close the season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Eagles, Kelce, Giants

Here’s a look at the NFC East:

  • Eagles center Jason Kelce says he played through a grade two MCL sprain, a broken foot, a “torn elbow” and other nagging injuries in 2018 (Twitter link via Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer). Kelce, who recently re-upped with the team on an extension to take him through the 2021 season, says he’s not quite 100%, noting that he’s “as healed as I’m going to get.” Following the Eagles’ Divisional Round loss to the Saints, Kelce hinted that he may end up retiring, so it’s unlikely that Kelce will actually play through ’21. Instead, his new deal simply signals that he’s committed to play this season.
  • Eagles running back Josh Adams is expected to miss the start of the team’s offseason conditioning program as he recovers from shoulder surgery, Mike Kaye of NJ.com hears. The good news is that Adams’ six-month timetable from January labrum surgery should put him in line to participate in July’s training camp. Adams put himself on the map last year with a team-leading 511 rushing yards plus three touchdowns. His usage dropped after five consecutive starts, but he’ll have an opportunity to build on that progress in 2019.
  • Sterling Shepard‘s contract extension talks with the Giants appeared to have picked up after the Odell Beckham trade, Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com tweets. Shepard’s new deal – a four-year, $41MM pact – was larger than expected, though the going rate for wide receivers shot up dramatically this offseason. Had the Giants not extended Shepard, teams such as the Patriots would have been ready to pounce on him in free agency next year.

Patriots Had Interest In Sterling Shepard

The Patriots had interest in trading for Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard this offseason, according to Pat Leonard of the Daily News. Of course, that’s no longer an option for the Pats after Shepard inked a four-year, $41MM extension with the G-Men.

[RELATED: Giants Sign Sterling Shepard To Extension]

The value of Shepard’s extension raised eyebrows in the football world, but it’s clear that the slot receiver is well-valued around the league. Had the Giants not re-upped Shepard after his career year in 2018, they would have risked losing him to a free agent market next year that is increasingly strong for receivers like him.

Meanwhile, the Pats will have to look elsewhere for offensive firepower. The retirement of Rob Gronkowski, defection of Cordarrelle Patterson, and suspension of Josh Gordon leaves them with little in the way of targets for Tom Brady. The club could still circle back to free agent Chris Hogan, though we haven’t heard much on that front lately.

The Pats went after Adam Humphries and Odell Beckham Jr. earlier this offseason, but did not come away with either player. They also pursued Jared Cook – even after he agreed to sign with the Saints – as a Gronk replacement, but they were rebuffed. At this stage, the Pats will probably have to zero in receivers in the draft and summer cap casualties.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants, Sterling Shepard Agree To Extension

The Giants have finalized a four-year, $41MM extension with wide receiver Sterling Shepard, a source tells Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). Prior to the extension, Shepard was set to hit the open market after the 2019 season. 

[RELATED: Latest On Giants, Josh Rosen]

Shepard, the team’s longest-tenured receiver, is now the club’s highest-paid player at the position. It’s a larger than expected deal for Shepard, especially since his skill set mirrors that of new acquisition Golden Tate.

By the same token, the Giants will be relying on Shepard even more now that Odell Beckham is out of the picture. He’ll look to build off of a career year in 2018 when he hauled in 66 receptions for 872 yards and four touchdowns. The 26-year-old spent most of the year in the slot, though he also lined up outside towards the end of the year while OBJ was sidelined.

The former 2016 second-round pick and Tate are set to headline the Giants’ WR depth chart with support from the recently re-signed Russell ShepardCorey Coleman, Bennie Fowler, Cody Latimer, and others.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Notes: Abrams, Apple, Shepard, JPP

The Giants interviewed interim general manager Kevin Abrams for the team’s full-time position yesterday, lengthening a list of candidates that already includes Giants VP of player personnel Marc Ross, former Giants executive Dave Gettleman and ESPN analyst Louis Riddick. While Abrams had spent the majority of his career as a salary cap guru, he’s focused on proving that he can also build a winning roster.

“My role has been more than just doing the cap stuff,” Abrams told Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.TV. “I wasn’t raised to be a cap guy. It was just the opportunity that was given to me and I was grateful of the opportunity. And the Giants do a great job with everyone — not just me, but we’re all encouraged to grow professionally. And like everyone else, I was getting a lot of opportunities to do that and I tried to take advantage of them whenever I could. A lot of that included being involved with our personnel departments.”

While Giants owner John Mara may be seeking major “wholesale changes,” sources told Vacchiano that Abrams is a serious candidate for the gig. The writer notes that the organization could choose to pair the interim general manager with someone like Gettleman.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from the Giants organization…

  • While many attributed cornerback Eli Apple‘s tumultuous season to immaturity, Dan Duggan of NJ.com explored the true root of the player’s issues. Ultimately, the reporter attributed the problems to “strife in Apple’s family,” particularly a falling out with his stepfather, Tim. “One of the biggest reasons Eli is declining so much this year as opposed to last year is (Tim’s absence),” Apple’s half-brother Dane Blackson said. “I know everyone always talks about the fame and all of the attention and how all of that can go to your head. But you have to imagine that from middle school to the NFL, Tim was there. Tim made this whole thing happen. Tim didn’t miss a game. Whenever Eli looked for that support, that was always there. Now, this year whenever he goes to look for support, it’s not real, it’s not genuine.” Duggan dug more in Apple’s family issues in a must-read article.
  • While the 2017 season hasn’t gone as planned for the Giants, one player has emerged as a major piece of the organization’s future. Zach Braziller of The New York Post writes that wideout Sterling Shepard has emerged as a “a future organizational linchpin.” The 2016 second-round pick is on pace to surpass his rookie numbers, as he’s hauled in 54 receptions for 686 yards and two scores. “I was ready to take it on,” Shepard said of the added responsibility. “You don’t expect for your top two receivers to go down. It kind of just throws a lot of weight on you. I’m a second-year player but kind of forced to take that leadership role because I’m the guy in that room with the most experience.”
  • Jason Pierre-Paul revealed that he’s recovering from a broken finger, although he expects to play this weekend against the Cardinals. Neil Best of Newsday.com believes the defensive end suffered the injury during his early-December matchup against the Raiders.

NFC Notes: Lions, Shepard, Redskins, Wilson

Recently appearing before a congressional subcommittee regarding brain injuries in football, former Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy said his former organization didn’t want him speaking about CTE.

“The moment I said anything about it, I had two calls telling me I shouldn’t talk about it,” Levy said (via Kyle Meinke of MLive.com). “I don’t know if it was because it was CTE, or if it was because it’s just the general NFL rule of, like, only football. Only talk about football, only think about football. I posted simply the research … and I was told not to talk about it the first day it was out. And I’m just, like, you know, it could have just been locker room culture. Nobody wants to talk about anything other than football. But it didn’t sit well with me when I’m talking about brain injuries.

“It’s my brain. It’s not my shoulder, it’s my brain. It controls everything I do, it controls everything we think, everything we feel. And if I don’t have the right to speak about that as a player, I think it really speaks about the culture of the NFL, of what those conversations are. I think that’s indicative of the conversations that we don’t hear. The closed-door conversations between owners. They still are trying to find ways to silence us.”

The Lions responded to their former player’s statement, saying “[w]e are aware of his comments and we strongly disagree with this claim that anyone from our organization tried to silence him.”

Levy, 30, spent his entire eight-year career in Detroit. After being named as a second-team All-Pro in 2014, the linebacker signed a lucrative extension with the organization. However, a hip, knee, and meniscus injury ultimately forced him to hang up his cleats, and he’s since spent his team advocating for CTE awareness.

“I don’t think the owners are in touch with it,” Levy said. “It’s a business. We’re a number. Our brains and bodies are disposable.”

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

  • Matthew Stafford is listed as questionable for tomorrow’s matchup against the Saints with an ankle injury, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that the Lions quarterback is expected to play. The 29-year-old is one pace for one of his most efficient NFL season, as he’s completed 64.2-percent of his pass attempts for 1116 yards, nine touchdowns, and only one interception.
  • The Giants placed three wideouts (Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and Dwayne Harris) on the injured reserve this past week, and it looks like they’ll be without another top receiver for at least this weekend. ESPN’s Jordan Raanan tweets that wideout Sterling Shepard is out for tomorrow’s contest in Denver. The former second-rounder has hauled in 22 receptions for 263 yards and one touchdown this season.
  • Back in 2012, the Redskins had selected quarterback Kirk Cousins in the fourth round despite using the second-overall pick on fellow quarterback Robert Griffin III. However, as former offensive coordinator (and current 49ers head coach) Kyle Shanahan explains, the team was actually eyeing another notable signal-caller with that fourth-round selection. “Actually, our goal was we were going to take Russell Wilson in the fourth round knowing what type of offense we were going to run, and we wanted to pair some guys with that, but he went before that,” Shanahan said (via Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee). “And we had Kirk ranked high. He was there in the fourth. He fell that far, so we thought it made a lot of sense for the organization.”

NFC East Rumors: Jones, Johnson, Giants

Jerry Jones spoke at length after Sunday’s Packers-Cowboys game and expanded on his stance about players’ protests that have intensified this season. The longtime owner announced a policy that figures to be a key talking point across the league.

If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play,” Jones said, via Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk. “OK? Understand? If we are disrespecting the flag, then we won’t play. Period. Period. We’re going to respect the flag, and I’m going to create the perception of it. And we have.”

Although no Cowboys decided to sit or kneel during the national anthem today, David Irving and Damontre Moore raised their fists. Jones was asked directly about that. It’s not known if the owner considers what the defensive ends did as disrespecting the flag. Jones said he was “not aware” of Irving and Moore’s protests and called the team “very much on the same page together” regarding this issue. The defensive linemen (via Williams) each did not view it as such. Jones’ decree comes two weeks after the owner knelt with his team during a nationally televised game against the Cardinals, doing so before the anthem played.

The NFLPA also released a statement after these comments and Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to leave the 49ers-Colts game once players knelt during the anthem.

NFL players are union members and part of the labor movement that has woven the fabric of America for generations,” the statement read (via Mike Florio of PFT). “Our men and their families are also conscientious Americans who continue to be forces for good through our communities and some have decided to use their platform to peacefully raise awareness to issues that deserve attention. … We should not stifle these discussions and cannot allow our rights to become subservient to the very opinions our Constitution protects.”

Shifting to on-the-field matters in this division, here’s the latest on that front.

  • Lane Johnson may have a difficult time taking the field for the Eagles on Thursday after suffering a concussion in Philadelphia’s Week 5 rout of the Cardinals. While the Eagles said their right tackle left the game because of a head injury, Les Bowen of Philly.com reports a concussion caused Johnson to miss the second half. Halapoulivaati Vaitai took over for Johnson at right tackle and would seemingly be in line to start there Thursday night against the Panthers, with the league’s concussion protocol making it difficult for players to return on short weeks.
  • The Giants lost four wide receivers during their loss to the Chargers on Sunday, and while Odell Beckham Jr.‘s broken fibula will hit the team hardest, Big Blue also will likely be without Sterling Shepard in the near future. The complementary wideout sprained an ankle and is expected to miss a couple of weeks, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). The Giants believe this injury is similar to one Shepard suffered over the summer. The Giants will travel to Denver next week and will likely have to make roster moves before taking the field against the Broncos, considering Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris also left the game due to injuries. Beckham and Harris will be out for sure, with the latter fracturing his foot.
  • Adding to this nightmarish Giants season that’s spiraled to 0-5, Eli Manning underwent a neck X-ray after the loss to the Chargers, John Healy of the New York Daily News notes. The 36-year-old quarterback’s X-ray was negative, however. Manning has never missed a start since taking over in that role midway through his rookie season.