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Optimism for Sterling Shepard after injury scare


*WR Sterling Shepard left Wednesday's Training Camp practice with an ankle injury: *

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants today received their first significant injury scare of training camp when wide receiver Sterling Shepard was carted off the field after injuring his ankle in an early-practice drill. But the initial diagnosis appeared to be less than dire.

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"Sterling, at this point, he looks like he has a rolled ankle," coach Ben McAdoo said. "A basketball-type ankle, but we'll see how he responds to treatment and go from there."

Asked how the injury occurred, McAdoo said, "He was running a hammer route, put his foot in the ground and rolled his ankle…At this point it just looks like he has a sprained ankle."

Shepard was the Giants' second-leading receiver as a rookie in 2016. He started all 16 regular-season games and the NFC Wild Card Game, making him the first rookie wide receiver to start every game for the Giants since Bobby Johnson in 1984. Shepard finished the season with 65 catches for 683 yards, and eight touchdowns. He placed second among NFL rookies in all three major statistical categories, trailing only New Orleans' Michael Thomas, who had 92 catches for 1,137 yards, and nine scores.

Tavarres King replaced Shepard with the first-team offense. He most often lined up outside with Odell Beckham, Jr. moving into the slot.

"We can both play inside and outside, myself and 'O,'" King said. "We know all the positons, so we're very interchangeable. Everybody's interchangeable in our room, so it doesn't matter whose inside or outside, we can make it work."

McAdoo had a more complex explanation.

"We believe in teaching concepts," he said. "It's important philosophically; concept learning and concept teaching is what's best for today's player. The more they can learn concepts and how players work with each other and how they fit. In a good offense, a good passing game fits tight together, like nuts and bolts. They can learn, they can empathize with what the other guy is going through, and they fit together a little bit better. So, that's just the natural part of things. Some guys, you have to start a little slower with and others, based on their history, Odell is definitely a guy that has an offensive flexibility that way."

Asked specifically about the performance of King and Darius Powe after Shepard departed, McAdoo said, "I think a handful of guys responded well because of reps. We completed some balls today from an offensive perspective, so that was encouraging."

*Mark Herzlich is so happy to have dual roles with the Giants, he wears two practice jerseys – at the same time.

Herzlich, who played linebacker and special teams in his first six seasons, is also taking snaps at tight end in this camp. That sometimes necessitates, as it did today, a quick change. When the Giants began a seven-on-seven drill late in practice that showcased rookie quarterback Davis Webb, Herzlich took off his blue No. 44 – his new number – to reveal a white No. 44 with red numbers underneath.

"I take it off, put it on the ground, throw it behind where the huddle is and then go out there, do my seven-on-seven," Herzlich said. "Usually before practice they say, 'You're going to be given an opportunity in seven-on-seven.' So you mentally put your mind on that for about three seconds, and then you adjust back to defense for the whole practice. Then you flip a switch when you go to offense."

"Anytime you have a defensive guy and you give him an opportunity to put on a white shirt and go catch the ball," McAdoo said, "they're pretty excited to do it."

Herzlich provides proof of that statement.

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"I feel really comfortable," said Herzlich, who attends only defensive meetings. "Just working on little technique stuff and learning the offense. I have a natural feel for where a defender is playing me, so that is helpful. Just got to keep trying to do everything that I can."

On the first play of the drill, Herzlich lined up at tight end, cut inside, and caught Webb's pass with a defender draped all over him. He later caught another pass further down field.

"He's viable, he's doing it," McAdoo said. "He has a lot of flexibility that way. You can have a conversation with him from the locker room to the field, talk to him about the opportunities that he's going to get for the day, and he can digest it and go out and execute."

Herzlich's offensive goals are much loftier than simply carrying out his assignment.

"It would be awesome to catch a pass in a game," he said. "Not just to catch a pass, but catch a touchdown pass."

And he wouldn't even have to change his jersey.

*Kicker Mike Nugent, signed yesterday, made all four of his field goal attempts.

"I thought he did a nice job, fit right in," McAdoo said.

*Defensive back Valentino Blake missed practice with lower back tightness…Running back Shane Vereen and defensive end Devin Taylor continue to sit out with lower leg soreness…Rookie offensive lineman Jessaman Dunker left practice with an apparent foot injury.

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