Russell Shepard
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

Russell Shepard is one of the several New York Giants receivers who’ll need to step up in 2019 and he understands the job requires a daily grind. 

Jason Leach

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—When the New York Giants traded three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in March, many individuals outside of the organization questioned whether the remaining receivers were equipped with enough big-play ability.

But so far in training camp, and last week in their preseason opener against the Jets, the Giants receiving group has displayed serious big-play prowess.

While no one person will be able to replicate OBJ’s production by himself, as a unit, each receiver will be thrust into a bigger role in the Giants offense this coming season.

One of those receivers is Russell Shepard, who is entering his second season with Big Blue.

Last season, Shepard caught 10 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns. But with Beckham’s departure and the rash of injuries sustained in the receiving room, Shepard has seen a considerable amount of time playing with the first-team offense in camp, and last week against the Jets.

Against the Jets last week, Shepard caught two passes for 58 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown where he broke free of a receivers grasp off a slant and took it to the house.

Shepard understands the gravity of the situation. Still, despite the massive opportunity that remains, Shepard understands it comes down to pure hard work.

“Not necessarily, we still have a lot of work that we have to do,” Shepard explained in his group’s pursuit to be the best. “Last week was a great showing by the receivers and a great showing by the offense. I believe we had 80 or 85% completion amongst everybody and no drops. So it was a great performance, but we have to build off of it and keep getting better. If we want to be able to make plays and do what we need to do in order to win games from a receiver’s standpoint, we just have to keep chipping away.”

One of the reasons why the Giants receivers have been impressive in camp is due to wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert, who is also in his second season with Big Blue.

“Tyke is one of the best receiving coaches I’ve ever had,” Shepard said. “He does a great job of getting the most out of you. He encourages you to be the best you can be, encourages you to chip away at your craft and just iron sharpens iron. He’s been a huge help to the receivers’ room, to my game, and just to everybody that comes across him. He’s a big coach on doing small things that will lead to big things so he’s always going to find things in our game in order for us to keep working.”

In addition to dishing out the praise to Tolbert, Shepard also spoke highly of his quarterback Eli Manning, who is putting forth a terrific camp.

“Eli is throwing a great ball, and he’s doing some great things. He’s proven in this camp that he is who he is and he’s going to continue to keep playing as long as he’s playing at a high. So he’s doing a great job.”

As for what he’s personally excited about for this season, Shepard stuck with team ideals. He’s genuinely invested in adding his own unique skill sets to the greater whole.

“Oh, I’m excited to just continue to bring the energy and being the veteran guy, and being able to make a play when my number is called. … and just being to be a guy that can do a lot of different things with this team whether it be on kickoffs, playing slot, being a vocal guy, and just being able to be a great football player and make plays wherever I’m at.”

Shepard also had a message to the loyal New York Giants fan base.

“Just be patient with us. We’re working. We have a lot of people that want this organization to get back to what it’s supposed to be. It’s a lot of history with the Giants, and we just want to continue to add to a rich tradition and give this city and this organization what it’s supposed to have … and that’s championships and (a) winning effort, and just representing these colors in a major way.”

Jason's first love was football while growing up in northern New Jersey. For the past three years, he has covered the New York Giants, as well as several boxing events along the East Coast.