His nickname is “Young Shep,” but this weekend he’ll be the grizzled veteran.
Because of injuries to Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris, second-year receiver Sterling Shepard is the most experienced healthy receiver the Giants have on their roster. When the offense takes the field against the Jets on Saturday night, Shepard will be Eli Manning’s most recognized target.
“Man, it is kind of crazy,” Shepard said. “With Odell and Brandon going down, Eli is like: ‘You are the only kind of familiar face I got out there.’ That’s why I got to play. I got to know my assignments, make sure I know other people’s assignments as well.”
Last year as a rookie, Shepard was the one who could always ask Beckham or Victor Cruz what was going on. This week, since the injuries in Monday’s game, he’s been the one others are asking.
“Guys that aren’t used to being out there, they’re going to be running around, they might not know what to do,” Shepard said. “So I’ve got to be the leader there. But I think I am ready for it.”
He’ll have some help. Roger Lewis Jr. was on the team last year and he’ll likely be starting opposite Shepard when the Giants have two receivers. When they go to three, though, things change. Undrafted rookie Travis Rudolph was getting some reps with the starters in practice as was Jerome Lane, another undrafted rookie.
The Giants also recently just signed some players who can play receiver in the game, such as Ed Egan, C.J. Germany, Canaan Severin and Marquis Bundy.
“That is going to be rough,” Shepard said. “They have been doing a little extra time, staying in the building, getting the system down. At least the basics so that they can run the plays.”
If they have any questions, of course, they can just turn to “Not-so-young Shep.” He’ll be there with them.