EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Normally after a game I would do a full ‘things I think’ review. There is really only one thing I can think about right now, though, and it is that we may have witnessed the end of Sterling Shepard’s NFL career on Monday night.
Shepard, on the opposite side of the field from where Daniel Jones’ pass for David Sills was intercepted on the Giants’ final offensive play, crumpled to the turf untouched. He didn’t get his foot caught in the stadium turf, twist awkwardly or anything. He just collapsed while running straight down the field.
Giants’ left tackle Andrew Thomas called Shepard’s injury “heartbreaking.”
Shepard, 29, has been beset by injuries in recent seasons. He has not played a full season since 2018, and has missed 19 of the last 48 games. Last season, Shepard suffered a number of injuries, finally seeing his season end with a late-season torn Achilles tendon.
Shepard returned this season in time to play Week 1. In three games, he has 13 receptions
“Shep worked really hard to get back and to see him go through something like that again, I feel for the guy,” Thomas said. “He loves the game, he works hard.”
“When he went down everybody was thinking about him and he was in our prayers immediately,” said wide receiver David Sills. “So we don’t know what it is, but you never like seeing a guy go down like that.”
Head coach Brian Daboll admitted that Shepard’s injury “didn’t look good on what I saw.”
“It’s tough. It’s a tough sport. Guys work their butts off to get back from injuries, and if this is something that he’s out for the whole season – which we’ll probably know tomorrow morning or maybe we even know now – you hurt for those guys because they put everything into it,” Daboll said. “You watch them in the rehab room. You watch them in the offseasons. It’s just a shame.”
Shepard missed time in 2019 with a pair of concussions, in 2020 with a toe injury and last season had hamstring and quad injuries prior to the torn Achilles.
“It’s just real tough. Real tough to see that, for sure,” said quarterback Daniel Jones. “A guy who works so hard, he’s battling back from an injury last year. I feel for him as a teammate, as a close friend and yeah, that’s tough to see.”
Center Jon Feliciano said seeing Shepard carted off was “the worst thing that happened tonight.”
“Losing to a division opponent is never great, but it’s Week 3. Losing Shep, seeing him down on the ground, just since I’ve been here seeing how hard he’s worked to get back on the field. What a great guy he is and fun to be around,” Feliciano said. “I don’t know what happened. We don’t know the severity of the injury right now. But it’ll be tough.”
The Giants’ wide receiver situation is a mess right now. Shepard’s five receptions Monday gave him 13 for the season, second among the wide receivers to Richie James, who has 14.
Wan’Dale Robinson remains out with a knee injury. Second-year man Kadarius Toney is again struggling to stay on the field and missed Monday’s game with a hamstring issue. Kenny Golladay played a significant number of snaps on Monday, but was a non-factor. He had no catches in three targets, with one of those being a clear drop.
Without Shepard, Sills and James might be the only wide receivers Jones has confidence throwing to.
The on-field worry, of course, is getting more production from the wide receiver corps. The other concern, though, has to be for Shepard’s future.
“He’s one of the bell cows on offense. Good leader, gets them going,” said defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence. “It’s tough. He can’t really catch a break. It’s like injury after injury. But, you know, he has a good mindset, he works hard. So looking forward to the comeback.”
Shepard is eighth in Giants’ franchise history with 362 career receptions. You have to wonder if there will be any more.