When he was at Oklahoma, wide receiver Sterling Shepard tore up opposing defenses and made it look embarrassingly easy. But his NFL baptism with a Giants offense that has been tripping over its own shoelaces has been another story.
The Giants’ second-round pick caught a 24-yard pass in the preseason opener against Miami, and his only catch since then went for one yard against the Jets last week as the first-team offense failed to score for the second straight game. Shepard admitted Tuesday that facing Jets All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis was unlike anything he experienced in college.
“He is just really smart,” Shepard said of Revis. “He knows the little things that most corners probably wouldn’t know. He jumped one of my routes, and he was like, ‘I’m all over that.’ He’s strong, too. I tried to give him a stiff arm, and it didn’t really work out. So, I’m going to try something else next time.”
Asked if he’s worried about facing veteran NFL cornerbacks week-in and week-out, Shepard said, “(Revis) is one of the best to do it, so, I kind of put him in a different category. You play this game and you learn from things, and I am definitely learning from some of the things that happened in that game.”
Despite his meager preseason production, Shepard has impressed his Giants teammates throughout offseason workouts and training camp. Veteran receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz have worked closely with Shepard, who often will be on the field with them in three-receiver sets.
“They have helped me tremendously since I walked in the building,” Shepard said. “They have been helping me off the field with looking over film, different releases to use, everything. It’s great having them on my side and helping me out.”
Giants coach Ben McAdoo declined to say Tuesday whether the first-team offense or quarterback Eli Manning might play the exhibition finale against the Patriots Thursday night at MetLife Stadium, but Shepard expects to get a few snaps.
He expressed confidence the offense will click when the games count and discounted the notion of being frustrated with seeing few passes come his way so far. If there is one thing he wants to work on against the Pats, Shepard said, “I feel like it’s winning one-on-one coverage more often. They’re a big man team, so, beating one-on-one coverage is a big thing for us this week and going to the rest of the season as well.”
Shepard said the biggest difference he has noticed between the big-time college program he played in and the NFL is the playbook. “It’s a lot more detailed than in college,” he said. “There is just a lot more material.”
His training camp goal was to master the playbook well enough to be able to play faster, and he believes he has accomplished that. Even though there’s one more exhibition. Shepard admitted he can’t help but look forward to the opener in Dallas, where the Sooners annually faced Texas in the Red River Rivalry.
“It’s hard not to think about Dallas,” Shepard said. “I have a lot of people coming to that game, my family. I have been sneaking in a little bit of (Cowboys film). It’s exciting, and I can’t wait to get this thing going.”