EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Sterling Shepard's ambition for the 2023 season is identical to his objective in 2022.
"My goal is to be ready for the season," the Giants' eight-year veteran wide receiver said today. "So, whatever that takes is what I'm going to try to do, but I'm also not going to rush it. You get to that time and I'm not feeling right, then that's just what it's going to be. But that is my goal and just take it day-by-day like I said and try to be the best I can be that day."
Shepard believes he's on track to meet his deadline. He played just 165 snaps and caught 13 passes last season before tearing his left ACL late in the Monday night loss to Dallas. The cruel irony is that Shepard had returned to the field following an arduous rehabilitation after tearing his Achilles tendon the previous December – also in the final two minutes of a home game against the Cowboys.
Once again, Shepard had to undergo surgery and slowly recondition his leg. Once again, he had to stand on the sideline and watch his teammates play. Once again, he had to wonder whether the Giants would have an opening for him on their training camp roster.
Coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen have each expressed their admiration for Shepard as a player and a teammate, and on March 15, the Giants announced they had re-signed their longest-tenured player, despite what has become a crowded competition at wideout.
"It means a lot, man, you know what I mean?" Shepard said. "This organization has been really good to me throughout my playing career, and some of the stuff that's happened over the years. But I'm grateful and thankful and I try to give this organization everything I've got just for those reasons."
View photos from the career of Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard.
Shepard, 30, has been mostly a spectator during the team's offseason workouts, which conclude with a minicamp today and tomorrow. Although his most recent injury occurred three months earlier in the season than the last one, there's no need to rush him. Shepard missed the first month of training camp last year and still caught a 65-yard touchdown pass from Daniel Jones in the season-opening victory in Tennessee that held up as the Giants' longest completion of the year.
"Just being able to get in some of the walk-throughs and get a little timing with D.J. through some of the periods has been good," Shepard said. "I'm right on schedule where I wanted to be, a little bit ahead. So that's always good. But I'm just trying to take it day-by-day and just focus on getting back to a hundred percent."
A second-round draft choice in 2016, Shepard is eighth in Giants history with 362 receptions, 16th with 4,038 yards and tied for 20th with 22 touchdown catches. His 10 100-yard games tie him for the ninth-most on the team's all-time list and he has caught at least one pass in each of his last 64 games, the fifth-longest streak in Giants history.
Shepard returns to perhaps the best group of Giants receivers since his arrival. The 14 wideouts on the current roster include incumbents Darius Slayton, Isaiah Hodgins and Wan'Dale Robinson, offseason additions Parris Campbell, Jamison Crowder, and third-round draft choice Jalin Hyatt, plus Collin Johnson, who missed all last season with a torn Achilles, and tight end Darren Waller, who might well become Jones' most frequent target.
"It's probably the biggest receiver group I've been a part of since I've been here, but that's what we wanted to bring in," Shepard said. "We wanted to bring in competition. Some guys run from competition and some people don't. We're definitely going to see what we have, because we have a lot of guys that can play some good ball.
"I love the fact that we added more playmakers. It's not just on one person to make all the plays. We've got a lot of guys that can do it."
Shepard expects to be one of them.
Must-see photos from minicamp as spring practices come to a close at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
*Jones was asked for his appraisal of the wide receivers.
"I think those guys have done a great job," he said. "The guys who have been around, who've made a lot of plays in the past and the new guys we've brought in. I think we have a wide variety of skill sets and ability and guys who can do different things. It's been a lot of fun to work with. A lot of true pros in the room that come to work every day, and ready to take care of business and do what we've got to do to win."
*Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Giants coach Bill Parcells watched practice and spent time talking to Daboll, Schoen and many other members of the organization. Parcells and Schoen worked together with the Miami Dolphins from 2008-10.
Daboll introduced Parcells at the team meeting prior to practice and asked him to speak to the players following the workout.
"(He talked) about accountability," Jones said. "Talking about what makes a team great and what tests a team in a season and staying close, staying together, taking accountability for your role on the team. I think it was a great message."
Parcells coached the Giants from 1983-90 and led them to victories in Super Bowls XXI and XXV. He later coached the Patriots, Jets and Cowboys. Parcells was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013.