After three weeks on injured reserve with a turf toe, Sterling Shepard is expected to be on the field in some capacity on Wednesday. Whether he actually participates with the team in a walk-through workout to begin his 21-day window for returning to the active roster or simply tests out how he feels running on the side with that formal countdown beginning at another point, one thing is clear to just about everyone involved.
As wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert said on Tuesday: "I think he’s very close."
That may not mean playing Sunday against Washington, but next Thursday night’s game against Philadelphia would certainly seem within Shepard’s range.
"I know he’s made a lot of progress on a weekly basis," Joe Judge said. "We’ll get him moving around a little bit this week with the trainers early on and see where that’s going to lead as far as him going into practice."
Having Shepard back will be a boon to an offense that is struggling to find passing yards, explosive plays, and most importantly, points. The Giants have the same number of touchdown passes on the season now (2) as they had when Shepard was hurt just before halftime in Week 2. Their four-game streak without a passing touchdown is their longest since late in 1981, when Scott Brunner was the quarterback (Phil Simms was out with a shoulder injury). Unlike this drought, the Giants won three of those four games 39 years ago.
"Having a guy like Sterling Shepard, as a great player as he is, when you add him to the mix that definitely helps," Tolbert said. "I can’t wait to get Shep back out there and being productive in the passing game as well as the running game… Any time you add a player like Sterling Shepard to the mix it can do nothing but help your offense."
Notes & quotes: WR Damion Ratley, whose defining moment as a Giant was an offensive pass interference penalty that negated a 31-yard touchdown pass from Daniel Jones to Darius Slayton on Sunday, was waived by the team on Tuesday. "Damion was actually running a route," Tolbert said, discussing the inadvertent but blatant illegal pick that undoubtedly helped cost Ratley his job. "He was supposed to let Slayton clear, he runs a route, he comes underneath and he comes back out. The problem was as he was running his route he went inside and the guy who was covering Slayton ran into him… There just happened to be a collision there and the officials, they made the call and it was the right call." The Giants promoted Austin Mack from their practice squad to take his place. Mack is an undrafted rookie from Ohio State.