Any day now …
Giants receiver Sterling Shepard and his wife, Chanel Iman, are expecting their first child, and the baby girl could arrive at any moment. Which means their lives are about to become a whirlwind just as Shepard is ready to begin his third NFL season.
“Off the field, it’s different for me, because I’ve never been a parent before, so I’m looking forward to doing that,” Shepard said after Tuesday’s practice. “We’re in the early stages of being married, so there’s that as well. We’re just having fun with it, trying to figure out our way.”
Shepard is making preparations just in case the baby comes when the Giants are in Detroit next week for practices with the Lions. Iman, an internationally famous fashion model, announced on her Instagram account in May that she is pregnant with a girl. Her due date is Aug. 19.
“We have a plan,” he said. “I talked to coach [Pat Shurmur] about it. We have everything set.”
Shepard said it’s “between me and coach” whether he’d return home for the birth.
“It gives me a little more motivation to do what I do, but I love what I do,” Shepard said. “I love coming in here to work.”
Shepard, 24, comes into Year 3 after two solid seasons with 124 catches for 1,414 yards and 10 touchdowns. Playing on the same offense as wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., tight end Evan Engram and now rookie Saquon Barkley, the opportunities may not come in bunches. But Shepard is thinking big, regardless of the circumstances.
“I go into every season feeling it’s going to be a big year,” he said. “I think that’s the way everybody should attack the season, that you’re going to have your best year yet. That’s how I approach every year.”
He’ll get his first preseason game action in on Thursday when the Giants host the Browns at MetLife Stadium. He welcomes the chance for live action.
“It’s been a minute since we’ve been in full pads, but it hasn’t been full contact,” Shepard said. “It’s good to see what guys have and get the first few hits out of the way.”
Shepard is expected to chat with former Oklahoma teammate Baker Mayfield, the first overall pick in this year’s draft who heads into the season as the Browns’ No. 2 quarterback.
“We’ve been talking to each other this week,” Shepard said. “I got him some tickets.”
It’ll be all business during the game, as Shepard gets himself ready for what he hopes will be a big year. For him, for his team, and for his growing family.
“I feel like we have the personnel [for a successful season], but we have to put in the work,” he said. “We look good on paper, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to go out there and perform. It starts at practice.”
Shepard is hoping to improve on last year’s numbers – he had 59 catches for 731 yards and two touchdowns, despite missing five games because of ankle and neck injuries. He’s healthy now and looks crisp in his route-running during practice.
In the end, though, this is not about him. Especially not after a 3-13 season in 2017.
“I just want to get this team back on the right track,” he said. “The history of the Giants is great, and we didn’t do that last year, so I want to get us back on the right track. That’s the main focus.”