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WR Sterling Shepard 'very optimistic' about return

STERLING-SHEPARD

TUCSON, Ariz. – A quad injury limited Sterling Shepard to 23 snaps and four catches in November, but the Giants' wide receiver is confident he will have a better December and January, beginning Sunday against the Chargers in Los Angeles.

"I'm very optimistic that I'll be able to be out there this week with the guys and hopefully that's the case," Shepard said Thursday after the team's practice at the University of Arizona. "It's been a bummer just sitting on the sideline watching the guys, especially on game day. It already hits me whenever I've got to watch them practice and I'm not able to help them out with some of the reps and stuff like that. Then on game days, obviously, that's where you get all the juice and I still have that same fire, that same juice, but I'm not able to go out there and actually perform. It'll feel good if I'm able to get out there this week and play with the guys."

Shepard injured his quad in the Monday night loss in Kansas City on Nov. 1 and has missed the last four games. He had a hamstring injury early in the season and has been inactive for seven of the Giants' 12 games.

"Super frustrating," said Shepard, a six-year pro who is the Giants' longest-tenured player. "You play this game to be able to play throughout the whole season. It's something that we love to do, we all love to do, and it's been frustrating for a lot of guys this season. Been pretty banged up, but that's the way it goes. You've just got to kind of roll with the punches and whenever you're out there healthy, give it max effort.

"I think in any situation I love to live without regret. I work hard every single offseason. The last camp was probably my best camp that I've had in my career, but I've worked as hard as I've ever worked this last season. This is football, stuff is going to happen from time to time. Sometimes you can get out of there with a clean season and sometimes that's not the case. You've just got to kind of roll with it and do everything you can possible and that's what I always do."

Despite his absences, Shepard is third on the team with 32 receptions and fourth with 324 yards, an indication of his value and production. He hopes by finishing strong, he can help the team do the same.

"You always want to put good tape out there no matter what," Shepard said. "You never want to put bad film out. You never know what can happen in this league, so you've always got to give it your max effort. Plus, we've got guys that we're playing for. You're going to play for the brother next to you. We've been grinding with each other, so got to finish this season off with a bang. We've been here before; I've been here before in my career. I think it's always good to finish off the season with a bang."

View photos from practice at the University of Arizona as the Giants prepare for their matchup against the Chargers.

*Coach Joe Judge strongly denied a report that quarterback Daniel Jones injured his neck on Nov. 21 at Tampa Bay and not a week later vs. the Eagles.

"It was the Philly game," Judge said. "Nothing happened in Tampa, there was absolutely no injury in Tampa. I saw the report today. Someone had to ask a question about it. That's completely inaccurate. We would not put anybody on the field that was an injury risk. Not me, not our medical team. Wherever that information is coming from that's being reported, I'm just telling you, whoever is giving it to you is either lying or they just don't know. Either one is good enough."

Judge emphasized Jones' status has not changed. He will almost certainly not play on Sunday, but the Giants hope Jones will return sometime in the final five weeks.

"At this moment, there is no information of leading us any way, shape, or form to think there's a threat long-term," Judge said. "We're still optimistic and pushing forward to prepare him to be back on the field this year. When the doctors clear him for contact and they say he's good to go, we'll have him ready to go. That's where we're at right now and we've prepared him throughout this week that if he got cleared for contact. That's where I'm at with everything."

"I know there's a lot of question marks around Daniel's status. There's a lot of question marks internally as well because a lot of this stuff is coming from doctors looking to make sure he's making decisions on someone who's in a position because of the neck. We're going to be very deliberate and cautious with how we make this decision."

*Judge reiterated what he said Wednesday, that Mike Glennon, who stepped in for Jones last Sunday in Miami, remains in the NFL concussion protocol but is progressing toward playing against the Chargers. Glennon was officially limited in practice.

"He has to be clear of symptoms to get to this point, so everything is moving in the right direction," Judge said prior to practice." It's a non-contact practice. Again, the thing with all of our quarterbacks, Thursdays are non-contact practices in red jerseys. Tomorrow will be a normal practice for him assuming we clear through the protocols on that step as well."

*Safety Logan Ryan made his first public comments since he was announced this week as the Giants' Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee.

"The nomination is awesome," Ryan said. "I've been doing work for a lot of years and I wasn't doing it for the nomination. I just kind of was working in my own circles with people and trying to make a difference and trying to make the world a better place and to be noticed for that and recognized for that, not trying to get it, I think is the coolest feeling, so I'm proud. I'm honored to be the nominee for the Giants. I really want to win it and I really want to win it for the animal people out there. I mentioned there are a lot of people that do shelter work, volunteer, dedicate their life to that, don't make a lot of money, pet owners. There are a lot of good people out there that love animals and I'm not sure, but I think I would be the first person with an animal cause as his main cause to win that award. I do work with kids and police reform as well, but to highlight the animal people, I really want to win it for them and support them and give them notice."

*Cornerback Adoree' Jackson (quad) was the only Giants player who did not practice Thursday.

Two wide receivers, Kenny Golladay (ribs) and Kadarius Toney (oblique) practiced on a limited basis after not participating Wednesday.

Running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) and Jones (neck) were again limited.

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