Hunter Sharp sat in front of his stall in the Giants’ locker room Sunday after playing in the biting cold at MetLife Stadium. A football sat at his feet. It warmed his heart.
This wasn’t just any football from his third NFL game. It was the one he caught in the end zone on a post pattern in the first quarter of the Giants’ 18-10 win over Washington. The 16-yard pass from Eli Manning just 2:18 into the game was his first NFL touchdown.
“I’m really hard on myself, so there was a couple of other balls that I wish I would’ve caught,” Sharp said. “But the overall feeling of winning and catching a touchdown from the famous Eli Manning, man, it means the world to me. I’m going to remember that forever.”
The receiving corps looked like something special heading into training camp: a Big Three of Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard. But injuries took out OBJ and Marshall in Week 5, and Shepard played only 11 games because of various ailments.
So here was Big Blue, playing the finale of a 3-13 season before a sparse crowd, and the Big Three at receiver included Sharp, Travis Rudolph and Marquis Bundy.
“They did a good job,” Manning said. “They knew their assignments and were able to make a couple of plays for us.”
So who were these guys auditioning for an NFL future?
Randolph is better known than the other two. The Giants signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Florida State in May, and he spent the first five weeks on the practice squad. In the first quarter, he made a 29-yard catch for his lone reception, giving him eight catches in seven games.
He said he has shown the Giants “that I’m ready; I can play at this level.”
Sharp caught 137 passes for 1,774 yards and 16 touchdowns in two years at Utah State before the Eagles signed him in May 2016. They cut him that August. He joined Denver’s practice squad late that season and was there for much of this one — outside of one game appearance — before the Giants signed him on Dec. 12.
“Being an undrafted guy, there’s little room for error,” said Sharp, who caught his first two NFL passes, good for 25 yards, in his Giants debut at Arizona in Week 16 and made three receptions for 29 yards against the Redskins. “So I think I did good for myself . . . I would love to have a future with the Giants.”
Arizona signed Bundy out of New Mexico as an undrafted free agent in 2016. He spent much of last season on the Cardinals’ practice squad and much of this one on the Giants’ practice squad before his promotion Wednesday, so this was his NFL debut. He had no receptions.
“I enjoyed that game so much,” Bundy said. “It was fun to go out there and get the win.”