Shepard, despite an injury that kept him out of several games earlier this season, is building on last season’s rookie campaign. A strong player in the slot, Shepard has good speed and elusiveness that couples well with solid route running ability. Given the Giants’ injuries at wide receiver, he is now undoubtedly the team’s best and most explosive playmaker.
For a team that has struggled in nearly every facet this year, Shepard’s consistency when on the field is a bright spot.
Shepard was the best Giant on the field in Sunday’s game against the 49ers. He had 11 catches for 142 yards as the Giants fell to the then-winless 49ers.
“Sterling had a monster game. I mean, and I say that just from the standpoint of you look at the production that he had. You look at the competitiveness that he showed, the catches he made. There’s some things he did in the run game,” Giants offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said on Thursday.
“Really responded well and it’s just a young player, but someone that’s called upon that’s played some football quite a bit for us in the past and someone that can be a leader for us and is assuming that role. Has also done a great job with the other receivers. The other guys in the room and some of those new faces and he’s a guy that I was particularly proud of. His attitude. His competitiveness through that game. Even when it wasn’t looking great and there was a disappointment as there has been throughout the year, obviously, he responded well and his attitude was attack, attack regardless of the situation and we’re real pleased with that.”
Without wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall, both sidelined due to season-ending injuries, the Giants need to rely more on Shepard and rookie first-round pick Evan Engram, a tight end. Both have responded, but Shepard is emerging as a star.
He now has consecutive strong efforts as he returns back from injury, the week before the 49ers loss he had five catches for 70 yards in a home loss to the Los Angeles Rams. The Giants may be 1-8, but in Shepard, they have an exciting young wide receiver with huge upside.
“He just did a good job of getting open on a couple of plays,” quarterback Eli Manning said. “We moved him around, so it was a combination of a lot of things, but he did a good job of beating his one on one match-ups and made a couple of great catches down the field.”