Giants Offensive Starter Joins Saquon Barkley on IR

Giants place WR Sterling Shepard on IR

Getty Sterling Shepard #87 of the New York Giants celebrates with Golden Tate #15 after scoring a touchdown.

If losing Saquon Barkley for the season to a torn ACL wasn’t enough of a blow for the New York Giants‘ offense, they will now be stripped of their second-leading receiver for at least the next three weeks.

Hours after NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that wideout Sterling Shepard would be held out of Sunday’s game vs. the San Francisco 49ers, the team announced that Shepard will be headed to injured reserve with a turf toe injury. Shepard originally sustained the injury in the first half of Big Blue’s Week 2, 17-13 loss to the Chicago Bears.

Shepard has been far less effective thus far this season when compared to his usual self, hauling in just eight receptions for 76 receiving yards over the first two weeks of play. Still, the former Oklahoma Sooner remains a key-cog in New York’s aerial attack and will be sorely missed against a Niners team which ranks as the fourth-best pass defense in all of football.

C.J. Board’s Role Will Continue to Increase

With Shepard on the mend, expect fellow receiver C.J. Board to man a larger role on the offense. Board previously stepped in as an injury replacement to Golden Tate back in Week 1 when the veteran missed the opening week due to a hamstring ailment. Board’s five receptions and 49 receiving yards in 2020 both rank third-most amongst Giants wideouts this season.

Shepard’s injury also puts more pressure on Darius Slayton, who has quickly catapulted himself up Big Blue’s pecking order and into the role of Daniel Jones’ go-to target. Slayton has outsnapped the next closest Giants receiver by 48 plays over this season. Slayton also outpaces Shepard by five targets on the year, leading all G-Men receivers in the category, while tying tight end Evan Engram for the team’s overall lead.

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Injury-Riddled Matchup

Shepard won’t be the only big name missing Sunday’s Week 3 tilt between the Giants and the 49ers. San Francisco has endured a slew of injuries within recent games, namely last week against the New York Jets in MetLife Stadium.

Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, Jimmy Garoppolo Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman all went down in the Niners’ road victory with moderate to season-ending injuries. Of the aforementioned players, only Garoppolo appears to have an outside shot of playing this coming Sunday. San Francisco has already been without the likes of Dee Ford (Out Indefinitely), Deebo Samuel (IR) and Richard Sherman (IR).

The raft of injuries has raised concerns about the stadium’s playing surface, as San Fran is set to return to the scene of the crime a mere seven days after the event. With that said, the league has since released a statement claiming that the turf at MetLife Stadium did in fact meet the necessary specifications and was “in compliance with all the applicable NFL policies including the mandatory practices for artificial surfaces” for the Week 3 Jets-49ers matchup.

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