Evan Engram’s first game back will be in familiar territory.
The Giants’ tight end, who missed the past three games with a sprained MCL, will return from that injury Monday night against the Falcons in a game to be played about a half-hour away from where he grew up in Powder Springs, Ga.
“I’m really excited to play in front of all my friends and family,” he said this week. “A lot of people are going to be there that have been with me growing up and with me through my whole process in getting to this point, so just coming home and playing in the new beautiful stadium is crazy. I’m really excited. It’s going to be fun.”
The homecoming isn’t all that excited Engram and the Giants. They’ve clearly lacked his contributions over the past month, since he left the field with the injury against the Texans on Sept. 23. Engram said he wants to help provide a “spark” to the offense upon his return, and that’s exactly what the Giants are hoping for.
“Evan’s been a big part of our offense so far,” offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. “Having him back will be very helpful. I think everybody is excited to have him back.”
Said coach Pat Shurmur: “Him being out the last few weeks can affect you.”
Just like having him back should. Engram gives the Giants another option for big plays on a team that seemingly has plenty of them but struggles to find them.
“I think the more of our dynamic players that we have in the lineup, the better chance we have to spread the ball around and play good offense,” Shurmur said. “It kind of plays into, if you’re going to stop one guy, the other guy has got to make plays. That’s not to say that the guys that filled in for Evan didn’t make plays, it’s just good when he’s out there.”
For Engram, it was rough when he wasn’t.
“It was just frustrating not to be out there to begin with, but seeing some of the struggles and seeing some of the things I know we could be better at, it was tough,” he said. “It was tough not to be a part of it and just try to be a helping hand or that piece to fix some of those mistakes or to make catches in the end zone or just make big plays in general. But the whole team has grown from it. I’ve grown in my time off and I’m looking forward to getting back out there and try my best to help.”
After having watched the past few weeks of misery from afar, Engram said he’s also hoping to help spark the team’s mindset.
“Just keeping morale up around here and keeping our energy going,” he said of what he’s been trying to do since returning to practices. “Just finding ways to do more and be more, work harder, just pushing our guys and finding ways to get better each and every day . . . Trying to do my best to help our offense and this team.”
Notes & quotes: With wide receiver depth as much an issue for the Giants as a struggling return game, the team promoted rookie WR/KR Quadree Henderson from the practice squad on Sunday. A dynamic returner in college, Henderson had seven return touchdowns — four on kickoffs, three on punts — for the University of Pittsburgh. The Giants’ 2.8-yard punt return average is the NFL's lowest and they are 12th in the league with a 24.1-yard kickoff return average. WR Jawill Davis (concussion) was ruled out and WR Russell Shepard (neck) is questionable for Monday’s game. To make room on the 53-man roster the Giants waived TE Garrett Dickerson . . . G Patrick Omameh (knee), listed as questionable on Saturday, did not travel with the team to Atlanta on Sunday and was downgraded to out. Spencer Pulley will start at center and John Greco, who had been at center, will play right guard.