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Giants WR Sterling Shepard might return from injury Thursday against Eagles

Sterling Shepard #87 of the Giants runs a

Sterling Shepard #87 of the Giants runs a reception during the third quarter against Mike Hilton #28 of the Pittsburgh Steelers for a first quarter at MetLife Stadium on Monday, Sep. 14, 2020. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Sterling Shepard remains on injured reserve, but coach Joe Judge said he is "a little bit closer" to returning than he was last week and even dangled the idea that his availability for Thursday night’s contest against the Eagles could be a game-time decision.

The wide receiver suffered a turf toe injury in Week 2 but is eligible to be designated to return at any time. That would normally open up a 21-day window for the player to practice before being added to the active roster, but if Shepard is to come back in this short week he will have to do so without any practices. The Giants did not have an on-field workout on Monday and have only a walk-through scheduled for Tuesday with the short turnaround for the upcoming game.

That means no chance to prove himself to the medical or coaching staff in a competitive, full-speed situation.

"We’ll have to go off what the trainers tell us," Judge said. "We’ll see, this could go up to a pregame workout. We’re not sure. We’ll see where he is at throughout the week."

The Giants placed linebacker Lorenzo Carter on injured reserve with a ruptured Achilles on Monday, clearing a roster spot that could go to Shepard.

Last week Shepard was limited to some individual work on the side with those trainers while the rest of the team practiced. On Monday, Shepard again was working with those trainers.

The Giants certainly could use Shepard. Despite Sunday’s win, their wide receivers managed just five receptions for 61 yards. Only Darius Slayton caught more than one pass in that group, and he is dealing with a foot injury. That he was projected to have been limited and not out of Monday’s hypothetical practice on the injury report suggests he should be able to play Thursday, but he clearly will not be at full speed. The Giants also will be without receiver C.J Board, who is in concussion protocol after taking a heavy hit on Sunday that led to his being immobilized and carted off the field. Board was released from the hospital on Sunday night, but might be sidelined for some time.

And Golden Tate? The veteran has had a decreased role in the offense this season, either by design or through his abilities. On Sunday he was targeted just once for an 11-yard catch in the fourth quarter. It was the least productive and fewest number of opportunities (or opportunity, singular) that he has had in a game since his second year in the NFL in 2011.

Shepard’s return should provide a spark to the league’s 30th-ranked passing offense.

Whether he can do that on Thursday remains to be seen.

Notes & quotes: Judge reiterated that the decision to not start first-round pick Andrew Thomas at left tackle on Sunday was because he was late to a team meeting and not due to his performance, but fellow rookie Matt Peart played so well in his place that the Giants might be rethinking their offensive line structure. "Has he earned the right to be on the field and contribute? Absolutely," Judge said of Peart. When asked if Thomas will start on Thursday, Judge was less absolute. "We’ll go through practice this week and kind of see where everything shakes out," he said … Sunday’s hero, linebacker Tae Crowder, who returned a fumble for the game-winning touchdown, injured his hamstring on the play and was listed as out for Monday’s practice on the projected injury report …The Eagles are dealing with plenty of injury issues, too. ESPN and the NFL Network reported they will be without running back Miles Sanders (knee) and tight end Zach Ertz (ankle) on Thursday.

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