Sterling Shepard is on track to return from his fractured left thumb in time for the Sept. 8 game against the Cowboys. Why would the Giants want to threaten that by having him on the field in team drills in training camp these past two days?
“You have to practice football,” Pat Shurmur said Wednesday. “If not, we can just throw everybody in bubble wrap and we’ll see you opening day. I think we all understand that’s not how we do it.”
The Giants aren’t using bubble wrap, but the next best thing when it comes to Shepard. On Wednesday he wore a yellow jersey at practice, the football version of police caution tape. The yellow tells offensive players not to throw the ball to him and the defensive players to avoid contact with him.
“It’s not ideal,” Shepard said. “But it still allows me to work on my technique, see on film that I’m getting open, that I’m creating separation. I know the ball is not going to come my way, or at least I don’t think it is sometimes.”
On Wednesday, Shepard managed to catch a touchdown on 11-on-11 drills. Eli Manning threw the pass to him, he pulled it in with his healthy hand, and sprinted the length of the field.
Shepard is a key part of the Giants’ offensive plan this season, moving up one rung on the wide receiver hierarchy with the departure of Odell Beckham Jr. The Giants think he can perform and produce like a No. 1 receiver for them.
For now, they seem to hope he catches zero passes… but finds a way to be open so that in another circumstance he could.
“Him being out there is a good thing,” Shurmur said.
Shepard said he hopes to have the splint on his thumb removed next week, at which point he could return to full activity and remove that yellow jersey.
“I think it’s good for him,” Manning said. “It’s one of those injuries that he can still run… It’s just good for him to hear plays, getting lined up, being out there, being able to run around and just be a part of it. You’re still getting the work so when he does come back, he’s not having totally missed out on three weeks of practice.”
Daniel Jones said his rookie hazing has so far been pretty tame. He’s had to buy sunflower seeds for the quarterback room and sing in front of the team.
“I put my best foot forward,” Jones said of his singing abilities. “The first time I sang ‘Wagon Wheel,’ but that didn’t go over great, so I tried ‘Buy You a Drank’ by T-Pain and got a little better response.”
That’s fairly routine stuff for a rookie and nothing like the pranks that Eli Manning received when he arrived as the first-round pick in 2004. Back then, the offensive linemen in particular took it upon themselves to torture the highly-touted rookie.
Jones said he hasn’t yet been subjected to such shenanigans. Nor has he been victimized by one of Manning’s pranks.
“Not yet,” he said. “We’ll see. We’ve got some time left in training camp, but I’m going to stay on my toes.”
LB Jake Carlock (Babylon/LIU Post) batted down a pair of red-zone passes at the line of scrimmage in a two-minute drill with the third team at the end of practice … LB B.J. Goodson left practice early with a left leg injury … Rookie WR Alex Wesley was cleared from PUP and activated for Wednesday’s practice.