The New York Giants have battled injuries on both sides of the ball this season, with essential players missing ample time with individual ailments. Rookie linebacker Ryan Connelly suffered a torn ACL in week four against the Washington Redskins in the waning moments, and wide receiver Sterling Shepard has suffered two concussions this season, forcing him out for multiple games.
While Connelly is out for the remainder of the year, Shepard has teased the injury report numerous times with full-participation statuses, despite not making it to the active roster on game-day. However, the BYE week did the Giants’ top receiver well, giving him enough time to heal correctly from concussion symptoms and practice fully for the entire week.
Shepard will finally be activated against the Bears, giving the Giants their best pass-catcher back and rookie quarterback Daniel Jones an essential weapon. Shepard’s return doesn’t come without bad news, though, as starting right end Evan Engram will miss Sunday’s game, along with backup, Rhett Ellison.
Engram’s inability to remain healthy has plagued his career, as he’s already missed time this season. A mid-foot sprain is the latest culprit, suffered in week ten against the Jets. Engram did state he was ahead of schedule in his 2-4 week timetable for return, but he did not practice this week.
In his absence, Scott Simonson, who was recently re-signed to the team, will get the start. Simonson suffered an ugly ankle sprain during the pre-season, which justified his release from the Giants, but the slew of injuries at the position gave them a reason to bring him back.
Having already been familiar with the offense, Simonson should slot right in as the primary tight end. He’s a capable blocker and pass-catcher.
The New York Giants need Daniel Jones to build a rapport with Sterling Shepard:
Shepard and Jones haven’t spent much time together on the field. In his three games active with Jones under center, he has recorded 195 yards and one score on a 70.4% catch-success rate (pro-football-reference). His chemistry with Jones is essential for the Giants’ offense to operate at a high level, especially considering Shepard’s ability to create separation, something the wide receivers have struggled with this season.
Getting him on the field and catching passes from Jones will only benefit the offense in the long-run.