Sterling Shepard of the Giants is taken off the field during...

Sterling Shepard of the Giants is taken off the field during the fourth quarter afyer an injury against the Cowboys at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Is this it for Sterling Shepard as a Giant?

Possibly. The longest-tenured player on the roster tore his left Achilles in a non-contact injury late in Sunday’s 21-6 loss to the Cowboys. While the wide receiver has two seasons left on his contract, there was speculation the Giants might part ways with him in the offseason even before this significant injury. Shepard already had missed time with hamstring and quadriceps injuries before getting carted off the field with 1:26 left.

"It’s definitely tough," Saquon Barkley said. "He’s a spark to this team, he’s a leader of this team. Just the energy that he brings every single day on the field and off the field. Any time you see a guy go down, it’s a sad thing."

Added linebacker Lorenzo Carter, who tore his Achilles last year and recorded his first two sacks since the injury on Sunday: "It’s a long process, but I know my guy has it in him to come back stronger than ever."

Wasn’t Leonard Williams’ elbow injury last week supposed to be season-ending?

It was, but the defensive lineman refused to sit out because of it and played his 109th straight NFL game. Williams wore a heavy brace on his left arm to support the injury and went through a pregame workout to prove to the coaches he was physically able to perform. He played his usual number of snaps for most of the game before easing off as the result became decided late.

Why did Williams play? Doesn’t he know the Giants aren’t going anywhere?

That’s what made it even more important to Williams to be out there. "I think a lot of players would have probably sat out if they had the same thing," he said. "Agents would probably tell them to sit out, coaches would probably not question you if you sit out. But I’m doing this more for myself than anything, more for my teammates as well . . . I take a lot of pride in being a durable player."

The Giants took note of that.

"Leo really pushed through a lot," coach Joe Judge said. "Leo had a big part in the decision of going out there and playing. I thought the guy gutted it out, made a lot of big plays for us . . . Leo’s a tough dude. He puts the team first."

Fellow defensive lineman Austin Johnson also played hurt after dealing with a foot injury all week.

How did the Giants handle this week with all of the players who landed on COVID/reserve?

Not too bad, actually. They were without eight players Sunday because of positive tests (safety Xavier McKinney, who was in the protocol as a close contact, was cleared on Saturday). The hardest hit area of the defense was the secondary, which was without two potential starters, but even they managed to cobble together a unit that was far from overmatched. The Cowboys had only 203 net passing yards and no passing plays longer than 19 yards.

"They really had about one walk-through together as a team to get ready for the game, so I was proud of how those guys came together and played with good effort," Judge said.

Who was number 45?

You might know him better as number 54; that is what Jaylon Smith wore when he was a Pro Bowl linebacker for the Cowboys. He signed with the Giants on Friday, practiced once and was thrust into action because of all the COVID-positive players. He didn’t play much but recorded four tackles in his Giants debut.

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