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What We Heard: Sterling Shepard talks versatility of WR room


The Giants were back on the practice field Sunday at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Prior to the start of practice, head coach Brian Daboll spoke with the media and updated the injury status of several players. Following the training session, outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux and wide receiver Sterling Shepard met with reporters.

Here are the top highlights from Sunday's press conferences:

Daboll provides injury updates on Shepard, Crowder & others

Daboll began his press conference by announcing the return of two veteran wide receivers. Sterling Shepard, the longest-tenured player on the team, was activated off PUP after passing a physical, while Jamison Crowder also passed a physical and returned to practice.

Shepard was ecstatic about finally getting back on the field.

"It feels great, man," said the veteran receiver. "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 and just trying to visualize somebody there. To actually have somebody it honestly was 10 times better. I wasn't even thinking about my planting or anything like that. I felt great. It was good to back out there with the guys."

Additionally, Daboll also updated the statuses of defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches, wide receiver Cole Beasley, and rookie safety Gervarrius Owens, all of whom practiced Sunday after sitting out Friday.

Daboll also said that veteran outside linebacker Jihad Ward and rookie tight end Ryan Jones were given the day off.

View photos from Sunday's training camp practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Shepard on versatility of WR room: The more playmakers, the better

There is no denying the Giants' wide receiver room looks a lot different from last year. The team added several wideouts, many of whom have experience lining up inside and out. Shepard believes that flexability will provide the offense with a boost.

"I've always had that versatility, but I mean, it's great having that experience being outside and knowing that I can win outside (and) I'm not just banked as a slot receiver," the 30-year-old receiver said. "Especially when you've got guys like (Jamison) Crowder and (Cole) Beasley who've done it for many years at a high level, you want to be able to have that versatility. It's the easiest way on the field and you know those guys work magic in there, so you want to have those guys in there. The more playmakers that you can have on the field – I mean, we've got a lot of guys that could flat out go, so I enjoy that out there."

The competition at wide receiver will likely be one of the most followed training camp battles this summer. Regardless of veteran status or prior contributions, Daboll made it clear that each player will have to earn their spot on the team.

"They all know that it's a competition," said Daboll. "I think every player on our team knows that they are all competing. Our philosophy, Joe (Schoen) and my philosophy, is to bring them in and let them compete it out. Whoever we think is the best one, at the end of the day, that's the guys who are going to play. They all have to earn it. They all understand that. They have to work hard, do the right thing, be where they are supposed to be. Then, ultimately make the plays, whatever position it is, that comes your way."

Thibodeaux: 'Sky is the limit' for 2023 Giants

Until the pads come on, it's difficult to gather much from the performance of the offensive and defensive linemen at training camp. However, second-year outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux has seen enough from his teammates to know that the 2023 Giants have a lot of potential.

"When I look at this team, I think I'm willing to fight in an alley with any of them," said the second-year pro. "I say that because these are guys who have no quit, these are guys who want to be better. It's a thing to have talent and to be okay with it. It's a thing to make it the NFL and cruise through, but when you have a bunch of guys who consistently make it their point and effort to get better and to grow, the sky is the limit."

The 6-foot-5, 258-pound pass rusher registered four sacks last year on his way to finishing fourth in the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year voting. Although he set out to reach certain accomplishments before his rookie season, Thibodeaux is keeping his goals for 2023 simple.

"I just want to be great," he told reporters. "I want to help my team win. I want to be a guy who can make plays and make the plays when they count. I'm not really too fixated on numbers, I'm just fixated on really having an impact every game and being available every game."

Waller is 'something special'

A common theme throughout the first few days of training camp press conferences has been Darren Waller's impressive athleticism. Listed at 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, Waller is a mismatch no matter where he lines up on the field. Shepard raved about the new tight end.

"That boy's something special," Shepard said following Sunday's practice. "I was telling people today, I don't even like for people to be on (Darren Waller) Wall's back. Like they've got tight coverage and they want to make a breakup but don't jump on my man's back. That boy's a monster. Did you see him go up and get that ball the other day? I was telling DJ (Daniel Jones), I was like, 'Man look, that thing would've been sailing over my head.' That boy Wall came out of nowhere! He looks good though. He's a freak."

Quarterback Daniel Jones connected with Waller over the middle for a big gain during Sunday's practice.

Thibodeaux excited to play opposite Ojulari

When the Giants drafted Thibodeaux with the fifth overall pick in last year's draft, they envisioned him lining up opposite Azeez Ojulari throughout the season. However, injuries limited Ojulari to just seven games (five starts) last year, although he did record 5.5 sacks in limited action.

Thibodeaux and Ojulari have entered this training camp healthy and ready to go, and Thibodeaux can't wait to see what the two of them can do on the field together for a full season.

"It's going to be exciting," he said about playing opposite Ojulari. "For him on paper, you know how many sacks he had to how many plays he had, so just knowing that, I mean, if you can get him 17 games, who knows how many sacks you'll get. Yeah, he's definitely one of the most talented pass rushers I've ever played with. So yeah, I'm excited to really get it going."



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