New York Giants: Russell Shepard Announces Departure From Team

The New York Giants may have had some problems at receiver for the last season, but they’ve had a competitive group and a number of players have stepped up over the past year to fill in for injuries and other absences that have held the Giants back at the position – and one of those players who helped with the team’s depth last year was Russell Shepard, who only appeared in three games last season but remained an option on the Giants’ depth chart even when players such as Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Corey Coleman, and Cody Latimer were unavailable.

However, not everyone can return to the team following the offseason and one of the players that will be departing the Giants is apparently Shepard, who announced his departure on Instagram and will be free to sign with another team as a free agent.

Shepard spent two years with the Giants after signing for them in 2018, but his 2018 season was more eventful than his 2019 one – he played in 12 games rather than 3 in 2018, and had two touchdowns compared to none, as well as substantially more yards with 188 yards compared to 25.

Part of the reason Shepard had lower production was the rise of Darius Slayton as an option in the receiving game in his rookie season, as well as the arrival of Golden Tate, who became the de facto number two receiver for the time when he was available in 2020.

It remains to be seen where Shepard will sign, but with his departure, it looks like the Giants might have another spot for a rotation receiver – that could be filled by a new addition, or potentially even someone already on the roster who hasn’t gotten to shine, such as current free agent Corey Coleman.

Why The Giants Might Consider Placing Sterling Shepard On Injured Reserve

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

The New York Giants have dealt with numerous injuries in 2019, and so has their primary receiver, Sterling Shepard. Shepard broke his thumb in training camp, then hurried to get healthy for the regular season. He was successful but has unfortunately been hit with even worse injury luck during the season.

In week one, Shepard was banged up while throwing a block on a run play. He stayed in the game but it was later discovered that he had suffered a concussion. Sterling missed week two and was back in the lineup for week three.

Sterling Shepard was not back in the lineup for long, unfortunately. In the Giants’ week five matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, Shepard suffered his second concussion of the season. That is two concussions in five weeks. Five weeks later, Shepard is still not back in the lineup. It is time for the Giants to consider putting Sterling on injured reserve and preserving him for next season.

Concussions Piling Up

This is not Sterling Shepard’s first season having a concussion. Sterling reportedly sustained two concussions in high school (according to sportsinjurypredictor.com). Then, in college at Oklahoma, Shepard dealt with another concussion that caused him to miss one game in 2013.

In 2017, Shepard was concussion-free, but he might have been dealing with the aftermath of his previous concussions when he missed two games with migraines. Now, in 2018, Sterling has suffered two more concussions and has missed six games with the potential to miss the rest of the season.

Regardless of his football status, the Giants should consider putting Sterling Shepard on season-ending injured reserve. This is now five concussions sustained in Sterling Shepard’s lifetime, a dangerous amount for anyone. Especially when considering the long-term effects that concussions can have on the brain.

A Father And A Husband First

Sterling Shepard is a football player. But Sterling Shepard is not just a football player. Sterling Shepard is a husband to his beautiful wife, Chanel, that he tied the knot with last year. Last year, Sterling also became a father.

In August of 2018, Chanel gave birth to her and Sterling’s first daughter, Cali Clay. They are now expecting their second child. Sterling Shepard, as Russell Shepard pointed out, has to do what is best for him and his family, not for the football team.

At 25 years-old, Sterling is too young to be jeopardizing his future for a 2-7 football team. The Giants need to do him a favor and shut him down for the season. By placing Sterling Shepard on injured reserve, the Giants would be ensuring that the young man will stay out of harm’s way until the end of the year. From then, it will be Sterling’s decision to make on when and if he will return to the field.

New York Giants: Eli Manning Needs To Take More Risks

The New York Giants desperately need the old Eli Manning to take over the imposter who wears #10 for the Giants. The quarterback who would frustrate fans by forcing balls down the field, but also energize his team by taking risks to generate big plays down the field. They need the quarterback who took risks, hung in the pocket and let his receivers make plays down the field. The organization needs that guy back for them to salvage this season.

Eli has become too conservative. He reads the field looking for the safe throw first before looking at his deep read. The defense is going to be poor all year, he has to take shots for the Giants to compete in 2019. Last season, Jared Goff, Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, and Philip Rivers all had a higher INT % than Eli Manning.

There has been a lot of scrutiny on the strength of Eli’s arm, but what good is it to have a healthy arm if you aren’t going to use it? On Sunday against the Cowboys, Eli attempted a deep pass (20+ yards down the field) on only 6.8% of his dropbacks, according to Profootballfocus metrics.

After rewatching every non-screen pass play called through the first three quarters, it became evident Eli left a lot of opportunities out there for the Giants. Let’s dive into the film.

Film Review

Q2 8:38 – 3rd and 12

The Giants struggled to convert third downs all game, converting only two out of eleven third-down opportunities. Midway through the second quarter, the Giants faced a third and 12 from their own 33. Dallas left the deep middle of the field exposed, if Eli holds the ball a half-second longer, he has the time to hit Russell Sheppard on a deep crossing route. Instead, he opts to check down to Ellison and the Giants punt.

Q2 1:13 – 1st and 10

The two-minute drill was unwatchable. The Giants gained 31 yards in the 1:04 they had the ball. The Cowboys played cover 3 on this play, which should have been advantageous to the Giants given they ran a flat curl combination to Eli’s left. The cornerback in the slot to Eli’s left should be Eli’s first read to dictate where he wants to go with the ball. As soon as the slot corner sprints to the flat, Eli knows he’ll have the curl route, which he did. Instead, the ball comes out quickly over the middle for a short gain.

Q2 0:54 – 2nd and 4

The Giants dial up the perfect play design against the Cowboys covers 2 defense. To Eli’s right, Engram sprints to the flat to occupy the corner, giving Sheppard room to make a play over top between the corner and the safety. This should have been Eli’s first read, but once again he gets rid of the ball too quickly and doesn’t take advantage of what the coverage is giving him.

Q2 0:30 – 1st and 10

This was one of Eli’s most egregious misses. He completes an accurate ball to Latimer on the sideline but misses a great opportunity to hit Engram up the seam matched against a linebacker. It’s possible he was spooked by the safety in the middle of the field, but given how much time was left in the half and where the Giants were on the field, this was a risk worth taking.

Q3 11:12 – 2nd and 9

On this play-action rollout to Eli’s right, it takes him too long to come off his first few reads along the sideline. If he had looked up, he would have seen a wide-open Rhett Ellison in the back of the end zone. These kind of misses are inexcusable.

Q3 8:39 – 2nd and 3

First, let’s give the Giants credit for actually sending Barkley on a wheel route and trying to free him up with a pick play. Eli has a fairly clean pocket to throw from, but seems to panic and get rid of the ball too early before Barkley was expecting it. If he tries to hit Barkley in stride further down the sideline, this is likely a touchdown.

Conclusion

The Giants desperately need Eli to elevate the offense. 2011 Eli wouldn’t have won Sunday against the Cowboys, but 2011 Eli can carry this team to a wild card birth. The offensive line looks strong, he finally has as running game and a few weapons among his receivers and tight ends. If Eli forces a pick downfield next Sunday you will hear a lot of groans from the fans in the stands, but that could also be a signal that Eli is back and ready to elevate this offense one last time.

New York Giants News, 9/2 – Former Pro Bowl wide receiver available

Good Morning, New York Giants Fans!

The Giants seem to be confident in their wide receiver corps heading into the regular season next Sunday, but a new development has offered them another option, former Pro Bowler, Demaryius Thomas.

The current group consists of Golden Tate (suspended for first four games), Sterling Shepard, Cody Core, Rusell Shepard, Cody Latimer, and Darius Slayton. Thomas could fit in perfectly while Tate misses time, but the Giants might be unwilling to give up any of their players to take a flier on a player coming off a torn Achilles.

However, in the preseason finale against the Giants, Thomas put up in impressive stat-line — seven catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns. He’s a veteran body that is still capable of being a productive player. He likely wouldn’t be an overly costly addition to the team and can act as another quality wideout for the offense.

Additionally, he could be a trustworthy mentor for Darius Slayton and provide the team with added production while Tate serves his suspension.

The Giants also added former Bengals WR Cody Core on Sunday through waivers. Core earned 130-yards and a score in his third season in the NFL last year. It seems to be a better salary cap move given Core is likely on a veteran deal. In my opinion, though, releasing T.J. Jones for Core doesn’t make much sense.

Nonetheless–

Matt Lombardo (NJ.com) – NFL rumors: 10 players Giants can target after roster cuts | Demaryius Thomas, Brandon Marshall, more

John Fennelly (Giants Wire) – 5 surprises from Giants’ roster cutdown day 

Alexander Wilson (Empire Sports Media) – New York Giants could claim hard-hitting safety Mailk Jefferson

New York Giants: Three Players To Keep An Eye On Against The Bears

New York Giants, Julian Love

The New York Giants will be hosting the Chicago Bears in their second preseason game tonight. The Giants are coming off of a preseason week one 31-22 win against the Jets. Daniel Jones stole the show last night with an impressive debut. But he was not the only player to turn in a solid performance last Thursday.

Corey Ballentine, T.J. Jones, and Jake Carlock were other standouts from week one. These players surprised many spectators with various impact plays. Here some more players to keep an eye on in Friday’s contest against Chicago:

Russell Shepard

The Giants have had a rocky offseason at the wide receiver position. Obviously, they traded away their best receiver, Odell Beckham Jr., in a shocking and controversial fashion. They then went and signed a 31-year old veteran receiver to replace him, Golden Tate. The injuries struck.

To open training camp, Corey Coleman went down with a season-ending injury while Sterling Shepard is still dealing with a thumb fracture. To top it all off, Golden Tate has been suspended for the first four weeks of the season.

Fortunately, the Giants have a lot of depth at this position. Lesser-known receivers like T.J. Jones and Alonzo Russell have been turning heads. But one player to keep an eye on against the Bears is wide receiver, Russell Shepard.

Shepard had the offense’s play of the game against the Jets last week. At the beginning of the second quarter, Shepard beat his man on a slant route from the slot and caught a rifled pass by Alex Tanney, then broke free and ran away for a 52-yard touchdown:

Russell Shepard was on the Giants’ roster last season but was a backup who was rarely given the opportunity to make an impact. This explosive play against the Jets could lead to more targets for Russell Shepard against the Bears. A few more big plays like this and Shepard could see himself getting some serious playing time in the regular season, especially during the first four weeks with Golden Tate suspended.

Wayne Gallman

The New York Giants have the best running back in the NFL in Saquon Barkley. Barkley lead the league in scrimmage yards with 2,028 as a rookie last season and is primed to have an even better year in 2019. He is obviously locked in as the starter and should see no playing time this preseason.

But behind Saquon Barkley there is a positional battle forming for the second-string running back job. Currently, it is a three-way race between Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins, and Rod Smith. None of the three looked very good against the Jets but Gallman had the job last year so it is his to lose.

Wayne Gallman received five carries against the Jets and mustered out only 13 rushing yards for an average of 2.6 yards per carry. Not a strong outing but luckily for Gallman, Perkins, and Smith had equally bad or worse nights.

Wayne Gallman needs to separate himself from the pack and secure the second-team running back position. Tonight against a tough defense like the Bears’, Gallman could win the job with a strong outing. Look to see if Wayne can improve his yards per carry and maybe even score a touchdown to secure his position.

Julian Love

Julian Love had an inconsistent game against the Jets last week. He got off to a very poor start but did rebound later in the game with some solid plays. It will be vital for Julian to work out some of those mistakes in tonight’s game.

Against the Jets, Love was beaten in coverage a couple of times early on and made a poor decision on a goal-line pick play to allow the Jets to score a touchdown. Love seemed to settle down towards the end of the first half, though, making an excellent pass breakup with under a minute to go in the second quarter:

The Giants moved Julian Love around the defense a bit last Thursday. He started the game at corner but later moved over to free safety. This adds to the rookie’s professional learning curve since he needs to learn how to play two positions instead of one.

The Giants might need to commit Julian Love to play one position until he gets acclimated, but if they choose not to, Julian Love will continue to demonstrate a high level of versatility for the Giants’ defense.

New York Giants: Rookie receiver Darius Slayton needs to step up

New York Giants, Darius Slayton

The New York Giants are dropping like flies at the wide receiver position. On Monday, WR Amba Etta Tawo has carted off the field with an apparent leg injury. It has since been confirmed that he tore his Achilles tendon.

Etta Tawo was a fan favorite from 2018 and was looking to make his mark on the team once more this season. With pass-catchers dropping, the Giants brought in the speedster to add depth to the unit, but even the depth is prone to the injury bug.

The Giants now have Sterling Shepard (thumb), Golden Tate (potential suspension), Cody Latimer, TJ Jones, Brittan Golden, Bennie Fowler, Russell Shepard, Allonzo Russell, Da’Mari Scott, Alex Wesley, Reggie White Jr., and Darius Slayton.

Slayton, who was selected in the 5th round, has been nursing a hamstring injury the past few weeks, failing to feature against the New York Jets last week and missing out on essential practice time. However, he’s one of the young bright spots on the offense that offers potentials.

The Auburn product’s primary strength is his impressive speed. Entering mini-camp and OTAs, Slayton looked awful; dropping passes left and right. Once he shook off the rookie jitters, though, he became one of two players to earn first-team reps before training camp.

His most recent injury has held him back significantly.

“It stands out,’’ Giants WR coach Tyke Tolbert said. “It’s noticeable all the plays he was making throughout the spring.’’

The Giants desperately need their speedy pass-catcher on the field, especially with all of the recent injuries popping up. He will likely make his preseason debut against the Chicago Bears on Friday, allowing him to showcase his abilities against professional talent.

Expect head coach Pat Shurmur to utilize him as a wide receiver-screen target and quick slant option. Having great speed and agility off the line of scrimmage will make him deadly within 10 yards. His yards after catch will be the fun part to watch.

 

New York Giants: Studs and Duds in Preseason Opener vs. Jets

T.J. Jones, New York Giants

The New York Giants opened up the 2019 campaign with a preseason 31-22 win vs. their cross-town rivals, The New York Jets. Here are the studs and duds for the Giants in their opener.

Stud: Daniel Jones

A debut that couldn’t have gone any better. I know it’s only preseason and he played against half the Jets first-team but Dave Gettleman must be smiling somewhere. Jones went a perfect 5/5 for 67 yards and a touchdown on his first and only series. His first touchdown pass was a perfectly dropped ball into the arms of Bennie Fowler in the back right corner of the end-zone. While it would have been nice to see Jones get more action, it was a great first game to build on for the highly debated draft pick.

Dud: Eli Manning

The offense heard boo’s on their first series of the preseason but that’s New York for you. It’s hard to judge Eli when he only threw the ball once but the offense just looked electric under Jones. One series won’t change him being the starter but if this becomes a pattern, uh oh.

Stud: Russell Shepard

Giants needed receivers to step up and Shepard answered the bell. The veteran took a slant from Alex Tanney 51 yards to the house. It was exactly what Pat Shurmur was hoping to see from a rattled wide receiver room. The receiving core isn’t a two-man show of Sterling Shepard and ex-Giant OBJ anymore, it’s going to be a committee.

Dud: Julian Love

The rookie DB had a tough first series; failing to communicate with Jabrill Peppers one play then getting caught in a pick play resulting in a touchdown. However, later on, he seemed to get more in a rhythm adjusting to the faster speed of the NFL. A Learning curve is going to be expected for this secondary considering Jenkins is the only returning starter.

Dud: Paul Perkins

This was Perkins opportunity to make Giants fans remember his promising rookie year but a fumble before halftime, struggling to run the ball, and add in a drop to the disappointing return. It’s surprising to see after an encouraging training camp but they play 4 preseason games for a reason.

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Stud: Alex Tanney

Tanney’s day was impressive further solidifying himself a spot on this roster. He completed 14/19 for 190 yards and 1 touchdown. He had unleashed a laser on a slant to Russell Shepard for a 51-yard touchdown and dropped a beautiful 40-yard pass to Alonzo Russell. The veteran is in the lead for the third and final QB spot behind Manning and Jones.

Stud: Alonzo Russell

Training camp stands out Alonzo Russell had a great release on a 39-yard completion from Tanney. He had another great route getting behind the Jets backups early in the third quarter what would have been a walk-in touchdown but Tanney decided to pick up the first down with his legs.

Stud: T.J. Jones

With opportunities open on the depth chart, T.J. Jones made a name for himself reeling in 6 receptions for 72 yards and an impressive one-handed back shoulder touchdown grab from Lauletta.

Other Game Notes:

-Corey Ballentine continues to impress as he made an incredible interception showing off his athleticism. He also looked like a natural returning the football. His first return was a botched catch in the end-zone as he took the touchback but followed it up with a 40-yard return on a kickoff. Ballentine returned kicks regularly at Washburn University. His stock continues to rise.

-Reggie White Jr. also contributed toward a great day for Giants wide receivers: 6 receptions for 40 yards.

-Ryan Connelly was all over the field. Bettcher loves the kid to begin with. Look for increased reps for the rookie linebacker out of Wisconsin.

-Long Island local and undrafted rookie Jake Carlock made a fantastic play batting down Jets QB Davis Webb’s pass and returning it for a 59-yard touchdown.

New York Giants: The top 3 takeaways from the first preseason game

New York Giants, Daniel Jones, Bennie Fowler

The New York Giants enjoyed their first preseason game against the Jets on Thursday night. They walked away with a victory and showed their resiliency after a first possession touchdown on the back of Sam Darnold.

While the Jets second-year quarterback looked solid in his first action of the season, the real story is New York Giants rookie passer, Daniel Jones.

The top three takeaways for the New York Giants:

1.) Daniel Jones shines

After Eli Manning started the preseason with a three and out and missing a wide-open right Rhett Ellison on a play-action bootleg, Jones stepped in and stole the show.

Playing for just one drive, Jones completed 5-of-5 passes for 67 yards and one touchdown. He moved downfield smoothly, finishing the drive with a beautiful pass in the back of the endzone to Bennie Fowler.

There were concerns in regards to Jones coming out of the pre-draft screening process that his arm strength wasn’t up to par. However, he has shown great zip on the ball in small sample size and is giving us hope for the future. While the first drive was against mostly Jets second-stringers, it is suitable for him to start on a high note with an elevated sense of confidence.

2.) Tae Davis is a tackling machine

Some might call Tae Davis a linebacker, but defensive coordinator James Bettcher calls him the “money-backer.”

Davis was all over the field on Thursday night, recording four tackles and an assist in the first quarter. His speed and athleticism were on display, and he played well in coverage, stopping Jamison Crowder early on in the first possession on a crossing route.

He will be used in a dynamic fashion. The plan is to have him cover receivers on short crossing routes and running back’s coming out of the backfield.

3.)  Russell Shepard to the house

Russell Shepherd belongs on the New York Giants after a successful debut in the preseason against the Jets. Shepherd took an inside slant route to the house, breaking a tackle on initial contact and using his speed to beat the free safety. He finished the night with two receptions for 58 yards and a score.

It is clear that he belongs on the active roster and stands out amongst the backups. He can be a viable deep threat and middle slant option. However, it was interesting to see him in the slot, where Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate will be the frequent flyers.

New York Giants: Three Observations From First Unofficial Depth Chart

New York Giants, Cody Latimer

We’re finally close enough to the preseason that we can get an idea of what the New York Giants will be running with for their starting lineup, and a couple of weeks into training camp, we have our first unofficial depth chart. You can find it on the team website, and of course, there’s some interesting things to note from what’s listed on it.

Developments in the battle at right tackle

Mike Remmers came out on top at right tackle, even if this is only the first depth chart and is still subject to change. That’s the expected outcome – second string right tackle Chad Wheeler was better than Ereck Flowers but still not good enough to be called impressive last season, after all. However, Remmers being the starter at the position wasn’t guaranteed.

The staff reiterated multiple times earlier in the offseason that the position has an open competition, even going as far as to say that it was Wheeler’s job to lose. In the end, however, it looks like Remmers is winning that competition despite coming off of injury.

Peculiarly, seventh round draft pick George Asafo-Adjei is in dead last behind Brian Mihalik despite some believing the Giants drafted him for below his worth earlier in the year. Is finishing last at the position behind a journeyman who joined the team last year the worst outcome in the world for a seventh round draft pick? No, but it does show that Asafo-Adjei has some more work to do before becoming a legitimate option for the rotation.

No surprises in receiver battle

Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard are both listed as top receivers – although Tate is likely going to face a four game suspension for violating the league’s substance policy – but the battle for the other receiver spots is about what was expected. Bennie Fowler, Russell Shepard, and Cody Latimer are shown to be in the mix and it looks like Shepard and Latimer are the frontrunners to become receivers two and three for this season’s lineup.

Don’t count Fowler out completely, however. As a former teammate of Cody Latimer, Fowler is already pretty familiar with competing with one of the players in the mix in this competition.

Markus Golden doesn’t enter first team immediately

Markus Golden should be a big addition to a pass rush that desperately needs it – if the Giants can get him back to his 2016 form. Golden had the third most sacks in the league that year but only had 2.5 in 2018 following an injury the year prior which ended his season.

Golden has big expectations this season but at this point the pass rusher is listed as the second SAM linebacker on the defense behind Kareem Martin, who took the top spot. Martin, of course, has a bit more experience with the Giants after joining them in 2018, which leaves one to wonder if Golden is behind Martin due to inexperience with the Giants or because of a failure to step up his play back to previous levels.

Another possible explanation, of course, is that the Giants are intending to use Golden mainly as a pass rusher who is more effective coming off the bench than playing in the starting lineup.

 

New York Giants: Eli Manning Praised By His Receiving Targets

New York Giants, Evan Engram

In the NFL, everyone tends to have an opinion about the quarterback, the most important position on the team – but one of the more important groups to have an opinion about the quarterback on any given team is the wide receivers, the players that will be catching passes from the QB. Good chemistry between the quarterback and receivers can elevate both of them while poor chemistry can result in both playing worse and in the team making changes to one side or the other.

Which is why it’s a good thing for the New York Giants that Eli Manning and his group of receivers are getting along greatly so far at this point in training camp. It’s not the group that anyone expected – Russell Shepard and Cody Latimer will likely be elevated to starting due to Golden Tate’s impending suspension and Corey Coleman’s ACL tear, but it doesn’t look like this revised group of players will have much problem connecting with starting quarterback Eli Manning.

“Eli looks really good. He’s been slinging the ball around a lot, and there’s a lot of velocity, and he still has his touch. He’s Eli, he’s been making great throws for years, but definitely you can see his confidence, and you can see his confidence really growing this camp,” tight end Evan Engram, who will likely see increased usage with Golden Tate out for the first four games and Odell Beckham in Cleveland, said about Manning.

He’s not the only one to praise the experienced quarterback – Russell Shepard doesn’t seem to think that Manning’s age is going to be much of a problem this season.

It’s important to differentiate between legitimate praise and offseason hype, after all, no players are going to come out and flat out call their starting quarterback bad, but training camp performances so far seem to back up the idea that Manning is still sharp this season, which is something that both Giants and outside sources seem to have bought into during this offseason.

We’ll have to wait and see for the regular season to see how things actually turn out, but out of all the areas on the team, quarterback might not be the position that Giants fans have to worry about the most despite offseason fear’s about Manning’s age.