The Giants got good news on Wednesday, as wide receiver Sterling Shepard returned to practice for the first time since tearing his Achilles in December of last year.
“I’m back at it,” he said while taking the field Wednesday. “[I’m] too excited.”
The pass catcher was activated off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list earlier in the day, and quickly made his long-anticipated return with a series of drills at MetLife Stadium.
He suffered his injury in the team’s Week 15 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, after dealing with other nagging health problems earlier in the season.
He finished the year having played 7 games, and averaged 5.14 catches for 52.2 yards per contest.
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Head coach Brian Daboll said the team would take it slow with Shepard at first, but expressed his excitement at getting him back to action ahead of the season, which begins on Sept. 11 against the Tennessee Titans.
“We’ll ramp him up,” the coach said. “He’s done a good job with his rehab, and it’ll be good to have him out there.”
“I’ve coached guys that have been hurt before and come back from injury, and I think the more they think about it, the worse it is. You just go out there, if we think you’re ready, and you think you’re ready, then let’s go play,” Daboll added. “But again, there’s a ramp up period that goes along with it to get them in the right mental frame and physical skillset, too.”
Daboll was non-committal about Shepard’s availability for Big Blue’s final preseason game against the Jets on Sunday — though the wide receiver hinted that he wanted to return to face their cross-town rival.
“This one does carry a little more weight,” Shepard said. “Who wants to be the little brother?”
Sterling Shepard looking good out here #Giants pic.twitter.com/zpR8VKP6tN
— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) August 24, 2022
Shepard came to the Giants as the 40th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, and has spent all 6 of his professional seasons with Big Blue — and he’s developed a solid rapport with starting quarterback Daniel Jones.
“He’s been a good player. I think he can do a wide variety of things: He’s a good route runner, he’s got quickness and intelligence, he can read zone, and read man,” said Daboll. “He can play multiple roles.”
“I think he can really play any spot we need him to play.”
The news of Shepard’s return came just before his fellow wide receiver Collin Johnson appeared to suffer a right-leg injury during Wednesday’s practice, and reportedly torn his right Achilles.
Now that Johnson will miss significant time, that will add pressure on Shepard to get back to action quickly.