Having just signed a long-term deal a week ago that secures his immediate future with Big Blue, Shepard is going to be an integral part of the team’s offense moving forward.
The decision to trade Odell Beckham Jr. earlier this offseason has ramifications on the offense as a whole, and while the Giants brought in a Pro Bowl-caliber talent in Tate, the passing game will likely go only as far as Shepard’s growth.
MSG Networks Giants reporter Kristian Dyer takes a look at how the Odell Beckham Jr. trade impacts Big Blue and how important this year's draft will be for the team.
As he enters his fourth year in the league, Shepard is hoping to build on last year’s 66 receptions for 872 yards and four touchdowns. He isn’t running away from having to bear a greater burden this year.
It isn’t a role that he is necessarily unaccustomed to, as Beckham missed a combined 16 games over the previous two seasons due to injury. Shepard has been the catalyst before for the passing game, leading the Giants in receiving in 2017.
The new role is something Shepard says he is ready to embrace.
“I think Odell going down kind of helped me with the leadership part,” Shepard said. “Being able to handle guys coming to me for some help on the playbook, or whatever it may be. You go from having a guy like Odell and having a guy like Brandon Marshall and those types of guys in the room, and now you’re the only one that’s kind of looked at for advice.”
Shepard and Beckham had a close relationship and were supposed to be the Giants receiving tandem of the next decade, but Shepard called the move to trade Beckham “the nature of the business.”
“I will miss him in a lot of ways,” Shepard said. “That’s like a brother to me.”
But, while Beckham, one of the best wide receivers in the league, is now gone, the lessons and legacy he imparted on Shepard will carry the 26-year old into this prominent role in the offense.
“I learned a lot from him on the field,” Sterling remarked. “Just different things that we saw on the field, and how to go about handling them. That’ll never be lost.”
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