Giants Watch: Shepard brawls with Browns corner, Nick Gates wins nice rep, Daniel Jones delivers dimes

sterling shepard, new york giants

The New York Giants had an intense joint practice with the Cleveland Browns on Friday afternoon, which ended with wide receiver Sterling Shepard taking on cornerback Troy Hill in a fistfight. Hill, who was reportedly the aggressor in the situation, threw the first punch as Shepard weaved his way around like Floyd Mayweather in a boxing ring.

Fortunately, there were no serious injuries or connections landed, but it undoubtedly boiled over from a physical practice with plenty of trash talking. While both head coaches tried to temper their teams and pulled them aside to calm their nerves, Hill and Shepard had reportedly been jarring at one another.

There are plenty of stand-out individual performers for the Giants on Friday, ranging from Darius Slayton to offensive lineman Nick Gates. Gates, who struggled during the first half of the 2020 season as he transitioned over to center, posted a much better second half. So far during camp, Gates has held his own quite well, as the Giants OL strung together a better performance after last week’s disappointment against the Jets in the first preseason game.

In this clip, Gates takes on a big defensive tackle, resetting his feet and keeping his hands locked onto the defender’s chest plate. He controls the momentum and holds the bigger defender back from collapsing in the pocket—a fantastic rep from Gates here who didn’t allow a single sack last season.

The connection between quarterback Daniel Jones and receiver Sterling Shepard has blossomed this off-season. Sterling seems to be on a different level, returning to camp in great shape and showcasing his elite route running against opposing defenders. Shepard’s primary goal this year is to remain fully healthy. Having played 16 full games in 2018, if he can put together a clean bill of health this upcoming season, Shep could find himself flirting with 1,000 yards and 6+ touchdowns.

Last season, Shepard posted 656 yards in three scores over 12 games as the Giants’ offense struggled to get going. If Jason Garrett can get him more involved in the red zone and deploy him out of the slot, the veteran pass-catcher could have his best season yet. It all comes down to solid offensive line play and good route concepts.

In this clip, Jones connects with Slayton on a back-shoulder pass in the end-zone. Slayton has had a fantastic training camp thus far, showcasing improved route running and solid hands. He’s been one of the more reliable receivers, with Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney working their way back from individual issues.

In 2020, Slayton dealt with a foot injury suffered against Washington at the midway point in the season but still managed 751 yards at three scores. He’s the Giants’ primary deep threat, utilizing great speed and refined route running since being a fifth-round pick in 2019.

The offense has taken gradual steps forward as training camp moves along, but having some success against a solid Cleveland Browns team is a major takeaway. Hopefully, they can display something similar on Sunday in a second preseason game.

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