Sterling Shepard is back.
The veteran Giants wide receiver is returning to practice just eight months after tearing his Achilles in a Week 15, 2021 loss to Dallas. Head coach Brian Daboll announced Shepard would be activated off the PUP list Wednesday.
Given the re-injury risk and the fact Shepard hasn’t garnered any reps in this new offense, it’s tough to imagine he plays in the team’s upcoming preseason matchup with the Jets. It will be the Giants’ final exhibition game before they take on the Titans in a Sept. 11 regular-season opener in Tennessee. There’s still no word on whether Shepard will play against the Titans either.
It’s miraculous Shepard has recovered this quickly. There initially was doubt he would even remain a Giant. Joe Schoen is two general managers removed from the guy who drafted Shepard (Jerry Reese) in 2016. Combine that with Shepard’s proneness to injury and it was tough to find any sort of reason why Schoen would want to retain the vet.
But the new GM was willing to keep Shepard on a reduced salary and the receiver was willing to take a pay cut to remain in East Rutherford. The pay cut lowered his 2022 cap hit from $12.4 million to $6.3 million, in a cost-cutting move that lessened the blow of a disastrous offseason cap situation.
Will he see the field a significant amount? Well…you would hope. The Giants decided to bring him back even though they could’ve used the cap space, so you hope he has a notable role in the offense alongside the starters. Or else, what was the point of retaining him?
However, I do believe we’ll see more of Wan’Dale Robinson and/or Kadarius Toney out of the slot, if either is healthy. Both are shifty weapons who can fit right into Daboll’s offense — Robinson, a rookie second-rounder out of Kentucky, was greatly featured in the offense during training camp. Shepard will certainly be in the mix though and could, at the very least, be the No. 4 receiver.