Giants veteran WR could have a stellar season returning from injury

New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (3) participates in drills during training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Facility

The New York Giants‘ wide receiver room is deep this summer, creating roster-spot competition among some of the team’s veteran playmakers. Despite being New York’s longest-tenured player, WR Sterling Shepard is fighting to maintain his spot on the roster. After going down with a season-ending injury in Week 3 of the 2022 regular season, Shepard has looked like his old self this summer, making waves during training camp and preseason.

Sterling Shepard is looking like his old self at Giants practice

Shepard has looked “really good and explosive of late,” according to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan. After taking Tuesday’s practice off, Shepard returned on Wednesday and had an “active and productive practice.”

Standout practices have been a common occurrence for Shepard this training camp. He has been running sharp routes, leaving Giants’ corners completely turned around in 1-on-1 drills:

In some ways, Shepard looks better than ever before. His routes are as sharp as ever and he looks explosive coming out of his breaks. As he continues to fight for a roster spot, Shepard’s standout performances at practice could convince Big Blue to give him a role in the offense.

What will Shepard’s role be in 2023?

Shepard is currently competing for a spot on the 53-man roster. With the regular season just around the corner, it does appear that Shepard will be on the team this regular season. However, considering the abundance of additions to New York’s offensive lineup, it is difficult to project a large role for the veteran receiver.

Last year, Shepard opened up the season as Big Blue’s No. 1 receiving threat. He was playing at a high level, totaling 13 receptions for 154 yards and one touchdown through the first three games. Entering this season, however, Shepard will be placed on the depth chart firmly behind the likes of Darius Slayton, Isaiah Hodgins, Parris Campbell, and Jalin Hyatt. His playing time will be decreased significantly, but this may be of Shepard’s benefit.

With less time spent on the field, there is a decreased risk of injury for Shepard. He will no longer be relied on to play an excess number of snaps. Keeping his workload down should allow Shepard to make an impact when he is on the field, but be on the sideline enough to recover between snaps and maintain his health throughout the season.

Shepard has the ability to play in the snap and on the outside, providing the Giants’ offense with dependability and versatility. Shepard can still be an excellent underneath receiving option for the Giants if he makes the roster and stays healthy in 2023.

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