Under new head coach Pat Shurmur, Sterling Shepard will have an expanded role in the offense as he’ll be lined up in the slot and on the outside.
In his two seasons with Big Blue, he’s appeared in 27 games and has caught 124 passes for 1,414 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Last season he was the lone starting wide receiver that did not sustain a season-ending injury. However, a sprained ankle and migraines limited him to appear in just 11 games.
Despite battling through injuries, his yards per reception did increase from his rookie season from 10.5 yards to 12.4 yards. He also showed that just like his teammate Odell Beckham Jr that he as the ability to score from anywhere on the field as he scored on touchdowns of 67 and 77 yards.
Shepard has worked primarily in the slot in his first two seasons, but he knows he can play on the outside as well, and in Pat Shurmur’s new offense it will be expected.
Following Tuesday’s OTA practice, Shepard was asked about primarily being lined up in the slot his first two seasons and if that will remain the same in the new offense.
“Yeah, I would say that, but in this offense, you kind of have to learn every single piece because you can be moved around and then when we’re going fast, you can pretty much line up anywhere. You have to know everything, you have to be able to run routes from the inside and outside.”
The 5-foot-10 Shepard was also asked about being labeled as a slot receiver.
“That’s been that way since college. I feel like I’ve proven that I can play outside and just try to handle my business. I know that I can play outside and we will soon see.”
The reason why Shepard has been labeled as a slot receiver in his tenure with the Giants is because under Ben McAdoo the Giants were in three-receiver formations 87 percent of the time in 2016, and 52 percent of the time last season with Shepard playing in the slot. Over the last two seasons when he was offensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings, Shurmur used three-receiver formations 54 percent of the time in 2016 and 46 percent of the time last season.
Whether he’s lined up on the inside or outside, Shepard will have the benefit of being singled covered as defenses will be focused on trying to contain OBJ, tight end Evan Engram, and now there’s a threat of rookie running back Saquon Barkley catching passes out of the backfield.
Shepard would be the number one receiving option on several teams across the league such as the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets. But with the dynamic playmakers the Giants have, he’s likely their third option which means he’ll never be matched against teams’ number one cornerback. So Shepard could be poised for his best season to date.
Shepard was asked if he had any concerns about how Eli Manning will spread out the ball with all of the playmakers the Giants have.
No, as long as we’re winning games, I don’t really care how it comes together. I just don’t want to have another season like last year, so whoever gets the ball, I know that you can trust in them to make big plays. I’m happy about that.
2018 has been a great year for Shepard personally. He married model Chanel Iman in February, and the two are expecting their first child in August.
Now he hopes having an expanding role in the offense will bring team success as the Giants look to start the Shurmur regime with a winning season.