Giants' Sterling Shepard 'felt great' in 1st practice off PUP

ByJordan Raanan ESPN logo
Sunday, July 30, 2023

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard was activated from the physically unable to perform list Sunday and said he "felt great" in his first practice since tearing the ACL in his left knee last September.

It has been just over nine months since the longest-tenured Giant had the surgery. He not only did individual drills in the team's fourth practice of the summer, but he even took some reps in live drills.

Shepard considered the day a success.

"It feels great just to be back out there with the guys and actually going against somebody. I've been sitting over there for months running routes by myself trying to visualize someone there. To actually have somebody there it honestly was 10X better," he said. "I wasn't even thinking about my planting or anything like that. I felt great. So it was good to be back out there with the guys."

As part of the Giants' plan, Shepard will be brought along relatively slowly.

"We will limit him, relative to the amount of reps and just kind of bring him along," coach Brian Daboll said. "He has done a good job in the rehab process. So he was ready to get taken off."

This is the second consecutive year that Shepard spent the spring and early part of the summer rehabbing a serious injury. He was coming back from a torn Achilles last year.

Shepard intimated that he pushed it too hard at times last season.

"Oh, 100%," he said.

This time he plans to approach it differently.

"I'm going to be smarter myself in what I allow myself to do and not really push back. Because I'm one of those guys that likes to keep going and going and going," Shepard said. "And I know I have to take my time this time and do things different than I have in the past. And just be patient.

"That is my main thing because I get antsy and I want to get in there three reps in a row. I may just have to take one rep, take a rep off. That's just the way it has to go. I have to hold myself back sometimes."

It's not going to be easy. Shepard signed a one-year deal with no guarantees this offseason. His spot on the roster is hardly guaranteed, especially with the Giants heavy on numbers at wide receiver.

The Giants added wide receivers Parris Campbell, Jeff Smith, Jamison Crowder and Jalin Hyatt this offseason.

"I control what I can control and that is being healthy and staying on the field," Shepard. "And when I'm healthy and I get an opportunity, to show my ass. That is what I'm focused on."

Shepard, 30, was leading the Giants in receiving over the first three games of last season, with 13 receptions for 154 yards and a touchdown. He has 362 catches, 4,038 yards and 22 touchdowns in his career.

But Shepard has struggled to remain healthy in recent years. He missed at least four games in each of the past four seasons. Shepard has appeared in only 10 of 35 games the past two seasons.