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5 things we learned at Giants practice (11/2)


*'s Dan Salomone highlights five takeaways from Thursday's team practice and media hour:   *


For the first time since injuring his ankle on Oct. 8 against the Chargers, wide receiver Sterling Shepard practiced fully today at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. The second-year pro was questionable heading into the final game before the bye week, but it was decided it would be best for him to wait until after the break. It looks like the time has come.

Shepard said after practice that he feels "real good" and that nothing is holding him back at this point. That's good news for the Giants, who could also use him split out wide given all their injuries at the position. But Shepard will still play mostly in the slot, where he has been the most effective.

"I mean, kind of the same, similar way," Shepard said of how he will be deployed. "Especially on the inside, I feel like that's where I'm best at, but a little bit more on the outside as well. So, throwing a little bit of that in there."


Did not practice: LB B.J. Goodson (ankle), OL Justin Pugh (back), C Weston Richburg (concussion), DE Olivier Vernon (ankle), DE Kerry Wynn (knee)

Limited: LB Jonathan Casillas (neck), CB Donte Deayon (ankle), LB Calvin Munson (quad)

Full: S Nat Berhe, TE Rhett Ellison (not injury related – wife gave birth), RB Paul Perkins (ribs), Shepard (ankle), DT Robert Thomas (calf)


With the possibility of playing without Pugh and Richburg on Sunday, the Giants have decisions to make once again with their offensive line. Since they went through OTAs, training camp and preseason with the same starting five, the continuity hasn't been there in the first seven games due to injuries as well as performance. Whoever lines up this week will go against Aaron Donald and company.

"He's a great player," said D.J. Fluker, who has started three of the last four games at right guard. "You can't take anything from him. He'll probably be a Hall of Fame guy one day. The only thing about him is, you have to play to his intensity. Match him in every way. He's going to work and that's the best thing for us. I think that's going to be a great challenge for us."


By now, opponents have taken note of Evan Engram, who leads all rookie tight ends in receptions (30) and receiving yards (342). He is also tied for first with three touchdowns, two of which came in back-to-back games before the bye. If he wants to make it three in a row, he might need to get a little help from the wide receivers.

"We want to continue to be creative to find ways to feature him and do things that he can do, and obviously defenses are smart as well," Sullivan said. "If that's the only guy that's getting the ball, then there are certain things they can do. A little bit more difficult for a tight end than an outside receiver, but still, there are ways in which they can reduce his efficiency. So that's where opportunities for other guys are going to be there and they have to make the most of them."


The best passer rating on the Rams doesn't belong to former No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff; that honor goes to All-Pro punter and holder Johnny Hekker. When he's not setting the NFL record for most punts inside the 20 in a season, he's slinging the ball on trick plays. Hekker has thrown 13 times in his six-year career, completing eight of them for 131 yards and a touchdown with a passer rating of 121.0 (Goff's is 77.5 with slightly more attempts). One of those came this season when Hekker completed a 28-yard pass on fourth-and-six in a Week 2 game vs. Washington.

"Well, where they're unique is they've got a punter that can execute fakes," special teams coordinator Tom Quinn said. "And they've got that on tape and they've been doing it the last four or five years. So that's always the challenge, making sure you've got everyone covered."

View the best images from Monday's team practice

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