In just his second NFL game, wide receiver Sterling Shepard is showing why the New York Giants think they landed an impact player in the second round of the NFL Draft. Shepard led all Giants receivers in catches and receiving yards in a 16-13 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in a performance that looked not just like a veteran but like a star in the making.
Shepard finished the game with eight catches for 117 yards, impressive numbers as he helped key a Giants offense that failed to score a touchdown but that moved the ball consistently in the win. Playing primarily in the slot, Shepard looked comfortable in the role where he saw most of his snaps during his collegiate career at Oklahoma.
He admits that the game has slowed down for him, not a big surprise given his output.
“I’m getting pretty comfortable. Last week I had a few mistakes that I wanted to clean up this week. I was able to do that,” Shepard said after the game. “Just focusing in practice, staying in a little bit later for meetings. But I feel like I’m picking it up and getting more comfortable. I see that progressing as the season goes on.”
His performance was a real positive for the Giants and showed a big improvement from Week 1.
In his NFL debut last week, a 20-19 win at the Dallas Cowboys, Shepard had three catches for 43 yards. But in the first half he cut short one of his routes which led to an Eli Manning interception.
His development is also having a positive impact on the field as defenses can’t double-down on fellow wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. anymore or Victor Cruz, who had a big catch on the Giants game-winning drive late in the game.
“He is a weapon in the slot. He needs to score on the one double move he had in the green zone. He will next time he gets it,” Giants head coach Ben McAdoo said. “He makes a big play over the shoulder, he needs to trust his feet and go straight ahead instead of worrying about sticking his foot in the ground and dancing. He is a weapon in the slot, he’s a smart young player, he works at it. The quarterback is developing trust in him.”