The New York Giants should have all of their top offensive playmakers together for the first time this season when they face the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night. The team announced Friday afternoon that wide receiver Sterling Shepard and cornerback/kick returner Corey Ballentine have both cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol, meaning they will be able to play on Monday.
Shepard has missed the past three games after suffering his second concussion of the season. Those two traumas have caused him to miss a total of four games this season.
This will mark the first time that Shepard, Saquon Barkley, Golden Tate and Evan Engram have played together.
“Hopefully that presents a challenge for … we can’t just have one guy that we’re going to try to lean on on any down and not be predictable. I think that sometimes, maybe we’ve got guys where, ‘Hey, they’re a little bit nervous, they might have to cheat the coverage that way,’ and all of a sudden, that opens up for Saquon or for Golden or for, as we said, Slayton is emerging in some one-on-one situations,” said offensive coordinator Mike Shula. “So, whether or not it’s zone and they kind of cheat the coverage, or man-to-man and maybe they spend a little more time in the man area with either a matchup or getting, if a guy who’s not in man kind of playing in that hole zone position helping out, it opens up for other guys.”
Ballentine has missed the last two games. He is averaging 26.3 yards on kickoff returns, while Darius Slayton has averaged only 21.0.
Special teams coordinator Thomas McGhaughey wasn’t ready on Friday to give the job back to Ballentine.
“I mean, he’s an option. We’ve got options back there with Cody Latimer, Darius (Slayton), we’ve got options,” McGaughey said.” I don’t know if I’ll put him back there, but he’s been practicing at it — he’s done a good job at it. He was one of the better kickoff returners in the league before he got hurt. We’ll figure it out. By the end of the week, we’ll figure out who will be back there.”