SEE IT: Giants’ Sterling Shepard toasts rookie cornerback

nfl: new york giants training camp, sterling shepard, new york giants
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are engaged in an ongoing position battle at wide receiver. Veteran pass catcher Sterling Shepard, however, is undeniably returning to full strength.

Shepard suffered an ACL tear in Week 3 against the Dallas Cowboys last year but has regained full strength and is showing his prowess. During Monday’s practice, he gave sixth-round rookie cornerback Tre Hawkins a masterclass, completely stonewalling him with a double move and leaving him defenseless.

Tre Hawkins: A Rising Cornerback

Hawkins has emerged as a standout for the Giants during training camp and demonstrated a promising start with a solid preseason debut against the Detroit Lions. He possesses the tangible traits needed to become a quality cornerback in the NFL, but there is still a substantial journey ahead for him to become a regular starter.

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Shepard’s Potential Impact With the Giants: Health and Versatility

In contrast, Shepard is poised to not only secure a spot on the roster but also make a significant impact, provided he can maintain his health.

Over the past two years, Shepard has only participated in 10 games, playing 12 games in 2020 at the age of 27. Now approaching 31, “Shep” still displays remarkable agility and route-running ability, attributes that contribute to his value. The Giants have an array of slot options, but Shepard’s skillset enables him to excel both inside and outside.

Sterling’s Career Stats: Inside and Outside Performance

Sterling has spent 63.6% of his career snaps playing in the slot and 35.8% out wide. During his 2020 season, when he gathered 656 yards and three touchdowns, his time in the slot decreased to 32.2%, while his time out wide increased to 67.1%. These numbers highlight his versatility and offer insights into the different ways the Giants can utilize him.

Chemistry with Daniel Jones: Veteran Support

The expectation is that Shepard will continue to develop the chemistry he has cultivated with quarterback Daniel Jones over the years. His veteran presence can provide significant support during the regular season and beyond.

Clearly, Shepard still has some fuel left in the tank, a fact that Hawkins discovered firsthand during their practice encounter. His return to form, coupled with his adaptability and experience, makes Shepard a valuable asset for the New York Giants as they prepare for the upcoming season.