When New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard showed up to training camp bearing the No.3, it was noticeable that something had changed. Shepard, who is entering his sixth season in the NFL, has taken on a much larger role this year.
Aside from being one of the team’s top targets in the receiving game, Shepard has become a mentor and leader behind the scenes, helping some of the younger guys adapt to the NFL.
Ranging from the wide receiver unit to the cornerbacks, Shepard has made an impact on a number of players, including rookie Kadarius Toney and sophomore CB Darnay Holmes.
After practice on Wednesday, Shepard stated that he tries to assist Holmes with his coverage, learning from his mistakes while up against the veteran pass-catcher. Holmes regurgitated Shepard’s comments on Thursday, indicating how much she’s learned from the 28-year-old this off-season.
But Shepard hasn’t only spent time helping others, he’s been working with Daniel Jones this off-season to improve their chemistry and timing with the young quarterback.
“He is a focused young man,’’ wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert said. “I just see he’s taken it to another level. It seems like to me he was more football-oriented this summer, more than any other time I’ve been here.’’
Coming to training camp, Shepard made it a priority to get his body in ideal shape. He knows that head coach Joe Judge prefers his players to condition during the off-season and utilizes running as a disciplinary consequence, as he did in the full team brawl that occurred this week.
“I mean, I feel great,’’ Shepard said. “I worked my tail off this offseason to come in the best shape. I think that was one of the things that coach [Joe] Judge and I had a conversation about right before I left for OTAs, just coming in shape and being able to be on the field at all times and being able to run around and move to these different positions and being versatile. That’s the mentality that I had going into the offseason, and I can say that I’m in some of the best shape of my life right now.’’
The New York Giants need the best version of Sterling Shepard:
Sterling is coming off the season where he played in 12 games, amassing 656 yards and three touchdowns. The last time he played an all 16 contests was back in 2018. Injuries have slowed his progression and hurt his continuity with Daniel Jones, but he’s hoping to become a more reliable option for the young passer.
Taking on a leadership role and becoming more than just a player for the Giants is exactly what Judge wants in his veteran players. Shepard is the most tenured Giants on offense, and his impact this season will go far beyond his statistics on the football field.