The New York Giants did their due diligence this offseason to supply Daniel Jones with the proper weaponry to succeed in what will more than likely be a make-or-break season for the third-year quarterback.
The team splurged in free agency, handing former NFL receiving touchdown leader, Kenny Golladay, $40 million guaranteed. Furthermore, they added the always reliable Kyle Rudolph to their tight end room and also took a flyer on an ex-top-10 pick in speedster John Ross. They followed that up by using the 20th overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft on dynamic Florida prospect, Kadarius Toney.
It’s certainly a reworked receiving corps from the one that headed the fourth-worst passing offense in football a season ago. However, despite a slew of new faces, it’s a familiar face — actually, the most familiar face on the entire Giants roster — who franchise legend Victor Cruz believes the rest of the NFL must watch out for in 2021.
“I think watch out for Sterling Shepard,” Cruz told TMZ Sports. “I think he’s going to be a guy… that’s going to do some really big things this year that might slip under the radar.”
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Shepard on New-Look Offense
Shepard, the team’s longest-tenured player, was readily engulfed in trade chatter throughout the offseason, albeit without much legitimacy to back it. Yes, Toney may prove to be Shepard’s heir apparent in the slot. However, for now, the 28-year-old is simply too pivotal to the team’s aerial attack to move on from.
Shepard is the Giants’ reigning leader in receptions (66), as he has been for each season since Odell Beckham Jr’s departure in 2019. While ideally, Golladay will man that role this coming season, a lingering hamstring injury has stripped the Giants from getting a true look at their revised receiver group in full, leaving Shepard to once again moonlight as the offense’s No. 1 wide receiver for much of the summer.
As for what the offense will look like when K.G. gets back to full strength, Shepard is unsure. Yet, he’s confident in the talent and staff around him to get the unit hitting on all cylinders come game time.
“I don’t really know, I haven’t really thought about that. However it looks, I know it’s going to be good, we’ve got playmakers, we’ve got guys that can make plays and [offensive coordinator] Coach [Jason] Garrett does a good job of getting guys in the position that they need to be in to be successful,” Shepard said. “I have confidence in the coaching staff and the guys to make plays.”
Cruz & Shep Weigh In on Daniel Jones
A major part in not only Shepard’s output this season, but the Giants team as a whole, will be the development, or lack thereof, from quarterback Daniel Jones.
“Year three for the quarterback is a very important year. I think Daniel Jones understands that,” Cruz said. “And they put a nice team around him to facilitate his third year. So we’ll see what he brings to the table.”
While the pressure may be on for the former Duke Blue Devil, Shepard has confidence his quarterback will deliver.
“Yeah, he works his tail off. Over the offseason, he’s nothing short of that. We were throwing almost every week. We would have different throwing camps. that guys going to come to work with an attitude every day,” Shepard said. “He wants to be great, and he’s been working towards that. I’ve got confidence in my man.”
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