After a solid rookie season, Sterling Shepard will be expected to make another leap for the New York Giants in this his second year in the league. This time around, he will be flanked by what is arguably the best group of four playmakers in the NFL.
Last season, fellow wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Shepard emerged as the go-to targets for the Giants and quarterback Eli Manning, both players doing well in clutch situations and capable of breaking open plays. Now with the addition of Brandon Marshall in free agency and first-round pick Evan Engram, a tight end, there will be plenty of targets to share a limited number of passes from Manning.
There also will be less attention in terms of coverage on Shepard given the immense level of talent surrounding him. All of which became clear on Tuesday for the Giants during the first day of minicamp.
“Sterling Shepard had a nice day today. I think he went out and had a strong first day in camp, he really showed up well inside,” Giants head coach Ben McAdoo said on Tuesday. “Made a lot of plays, so it's good to have everyone out here working.”
Last season, the former second-round pick had 65 catches for 683 yards and eight touchdowns, all numbers that were second on the team's receiving list. In each of those categories, Shepard was only behind Beckham, not a bad debut season in the NFL.
Being behind a Pro Bowl wide receiver, a rookie certainly points to a bright future in blue. Now with a big possession receiver in Marshall and a tight end to go over the middle, Shepard in the slot should be able to thrive.
“He's still a young player, but he works at it. ,” McAdoo said. “He works hard, he's always looking to learn and grow, and he's taking a nice step here in the offseason.”