Sterling Shepard has ditched the non-contact jersey.
A big step? No one with the Giants seemed to think so.
“I didn’t think the yellow jersey was doing much anyway,” the wide receiver said after Sunday’s practice. “It’s not that big of a difference.”
It’s true that Shepard had been practicing pretty much since he fractured the tip of his left thumb in the first workout of training camp. It’s also true that few players on offense or defense seemed to notice. Shepard would be thumped regularly and often thrown into traffic, two of the many dangers that the wardrobe was supposed to ward off.
But the formal removal of the extra layer of (false) protection was at least a step in the direction of having Shepard cleared for the start of the regular season. He still is not available to play in preseason games, but coach Pat Shurmur said Shepard is on track for the Sept. 8 opener.
“It’s just the next step in the process,” Shurmur said. “He’s fine.”
Shepard still is wearing a black splint on his thumb for support. Earlier this month, he said he still felt a sting in his thumb when he caught some passes, but he has altered the brace to alleviate the impact. Unlike the yellow jersey, that buffer seems to be doing its job.
“I put a little pad underneath,” he said. “One of the doctors suggested it. That helps tremendously. That’s what I’ve been doing and it feels great.”
It may be effective, but it likely will be gone by the time the regular season begins. Shepard said he has no intention of wearing the splint all year.
“No way,” he said. “I can’t wait to get out of it. If I could get it out of it tomorrow, I would. But they want me to wear it.”
So he will. And he’ll outgrow the symbols of his injury one garment at a time.