Sterling Shepard will miss some time with a turf toe injury. How could the New York Giants ultimately replace him moving forward?
The injuries keep on piling up for the New York Giants, with the latest news relating to veteran wide receiver Sterling Shepard. On Wednesday, a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter noted that Shepard would be placed on injured reserve and thus miss at least the next three weeks. Shepard suffered a turf toe injury right before halftime of the team’s Week 2 loss in Chicago.
Now, it’s become very much clear the Giants must find a way to replace their starting wideout, at least temporarilty. Young quarterback Daniel Jones needs all the assistance he can get, especially with Saquon Barkley also out — the star running back tore his ACL against the Bears and will miss the remainder of the season.
So how do the Giants go about this specific task?
Well, the easiest option would likely be to just increase the reps for second-year wideout C.J. Board and insert him into the starting lineup alongside Darius Slayton and Golden Tate. Board already saw playing time amid the Week 1 absence of Tate and during Week 2 when Shepard was ruled out, respectively taking part in 21 and 11 offensive snaps.
Up to this point, Board has recorded five receptions for 49 yards.
Just increasing his reps wouldn’t be that significant of a task, considering he already possesses some experience playing alongside the additional offensive skill players.
In regards to depth, the Giants could then promote one of their practice squad receivers, of which they currently employ four — Austin Mack, Derrick Dillon, Johnny Holton, and Binjimen Victor.
I’ve been high on the latter-most individual, due to the fact that he provides noteworthy height at 6-foot-4. Victor would be the tallest receiver on the active roster if the Giants were to promote him and he could thus be an extra option for Jones in goal-line situations.
Or if the team doesn’t feel comfortable with Board taking on an expanded role, it could increase the usage of tight end Evan Engram as a receiver, which New York actually did in Week 2. Engram would therefore take on more of a slot role while Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo see more reps at tight end.
The Giants could still promote someone like Victor in this scenario just because depth is crucial at all positions. Nonetheless, having Engram play in more of a receiver role for the time being might prove to be beneficial. He carries experience in the slot and would certainly be a more reliable option than Board, who’s yet to really prove much.
But in an alternate move, the Giants could actually acquire a free agent if they don’t feel notably comfortable with promoting any of their practice squad options at this time. One guy that may be considered is actually Corey Coleman, who the team released prior to the regular season. Despite his injury history, Coleman is multi-faceted and would be a special teams option as well.
The 2016 first-round draft selection wouldn’t have a difficult time getting up to speed with Jason Garrett’s playbook either, considering he studied it during the recent training camp period.
Coleman isn’t the most talented option in the world, but given that Shepard’s absence may only be three weeks, he might not have too much responsibility on his hands if he returned to East Rutherford.
And hey, if he were to impress, it could potentially lead to the Giants keeping him, at least on the practice squad.
Playing without each of his top offensive weapons is something Jones is used to at this point — this past Sunday’s game was the first time the second-year quarterback was able to take a snap with all of Shepard, Tate, Slayton, Barkley, and Engram healthy. That doesn’t make it an easy task though.
Nevertheless, the Giants do indeed possess reinforcement options for Shepard, a guy who they’re desperately hoping won’t be sidelined for longer than three games.