Sterling Shepard tore his left ACL late in Monday’s loss to the Cowboys, an injury that ends his season and leaves the Giants even more shorthanded at wide receiver than they were before the game.
Shortly after confirming the extent of Shepard’s injury, head coach Brian Daboll said neither Kadarius Toney (hamstring) nor Wan’Dale Robinson (knee) are certain to play Sunday against the Bears.
"They’re getting closer but we are not out of the blue yet with it,” he said.
Robinson hasn’t played since the first half of Week 1, and Toney aggravated his hamstring in practice two weeks ago, played in Week 2 but sat out Monday.
With Kenny Golladay and Darius Slayton non-factors in the gameplans so far, that leaves only Richie James and David Sills as fully functioning receivers on the Giants’ active roster.
Daboll didn’t sound as if outside help is on the way. With just over $5 million in salary cap space, the Giants have limited resources and options.
“Joe [Schoen] and his staff are always looking,” Daboll said, “but we have those guys who we have and we’re going to expect them to come out here and keep improving, working hard. We have a couple guys on our practice squad right now (Kalil Pimpleton and Marcus Johnson) that maybe they come into play. They’ve been picking up our stuff. We’ll see as we go.”
Golladay did see more playing time Monday with 24 of the 72 snaps after seeing just two the week prior, but he still had zero catches on three targets. His one 20-yard reception was negated by a questionable offensive pass interference flag against Shepard and in the fourth quarter he dropped a third-down pass.
“He had a couple opportunities there to go ahead and make plays,” Daboll said. “I thought he played with good effort. Obviously we’d like to finish that play at the end of that drive in the fourth quarter and I know he would like to have, too. But he did the things we asked him to do in terms of being in the right spot. Now we just have to work on finishing those things.”
Golladay said he was “beating myself up” about that drop after complaining about his usage just days earlier.
“That’s just something that you have to do,” he said of making plays. “If you’re not in rhythm, you just have to stay locked in and be ready.”
As for Shepard, Daboll said he had the same reaction to watching his injury as everyone else did as the receiver was slowing down in his route, barely at a jog, then grabbed his left knee and fell to the ground.
“It kind of looked like a freaky, freaky accident there,” Daboll said.
The artificial turf at MetLife Stadium is notorious for such injuries and many around the league have spoken out about it (and playing on grass vs. turf in general) following Shepard’s latest incident on it.
“I know there have been a lot of studies, not just here but probably in every stadium,” Daboll said. “I’m sure throughout the season and the offseason we’ll sit down and discuss those types of things.”
For now, they will just deal with the ramifications.
“He’s a tremendous person,” Daboll said of Shepard. “He worked so diligently to get back [from an Achilles injury suffered in December]. I feel terrible for him that he had that injury. He is a big part of our team and we’ll miss him out on the field.”
NOTES & QUOTES: The Giants had just 10 players on the field for Ezekiel Elliott’s 1-yard TD run in the third quarter Monday night. “Wink [Martindale, the defensive coordinator] called for a personnel group and there was one player who didn’t go in,” Daboll said. “We need to do a good job of listening to the play-callers’ instructions and go in and be ready to go” … While it certainly is not what the Giants want to deal with routinely, Daboll said the pressure Daniel Jones was under throughout the game was helpful to a degree in the team’s long-term evaluation of him. “You never want that to happen but that’s a good evaluation to get too, particularly on a quarterback, when you are under pressure and things aren’t perfect,” Daboll said. “How can you ad lib and make plays when it’s not exactly like it is on the play diagram? I thought he did that well.”