Sterling Shepard is out for the Giants' game in New England on Thursday night, and it seems like he'll probably miss the game against the Arizona Cardinals 10 days later, too. A source said that he is likely to be out a while, given his recent history of concussions.
That means the Giants will have to replace him for at least the next few weeks.
Now, Giants coach Pat Shurmur wouldn't rule out going with the four healthy receivers on the roster -- Golden Tate, Cody Latimer, rookie Darius Slayton and special teamer Cody Core -- at least for the near future. Eventually, though, they may need more depth, especially if Shepard's absence extends into November.
But don't expect them to go shopping for the few decent free agents still available, and definitely don't look for them to make a trade before the deadline on Oct. 29. They are likely to stick with what they know, and who they've recently had on their roster.
So keep an eye on these two:
WR Bennie Fowler - He was a somewhat-surprise cut last Tuesday as the Giants juggled their roster, in part, to make room for the return of Golden Tate from his four-game suspension. In the first four games of the season, Fowler actually started two of them and had 12 catches for 99 yards. He hasn't been a very productive receiver in his five NFL seasons, but he's got experience, not to mention two seasons in Pat Shurmur's offense.
WR T.J. Jones - He was a less-surprising cut last Tuesday, only because he had been cut before. A fan favorite in training camp, he was cut right before the start of the regular season, only to be resigned after Shepard suffered his first concussion. He only caught three passes for 38 yards plus a touchdown in three games. His real value was as a punt returner, but his struggles there made him expendable.
Whomever the Giants add, the real replacement for Shepard is going to have to be Tate, the veteran receiver who signed a four-year, $37.5 million contract with the Giants back in March. He missed the first four games while serving a suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy. He had just three catches for 13 yards in his debut on Sunday -- one catch on the first play of the game and nothing else until late in the fourth quarter.
Afterwards, Tate seemed unhappy about his role -- or lack thereof. Asked after the Giants' 28-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings if that was the role he expected to play the rest of the season, Tate responded "I hope not. Obviously, I want to be out there as much as possible, but we'll see. It's the first week back for me. I hope my role increases, but we'll see."
Tate had only six passes thrown his direction on Sunday. That might double on Thursday, especially if tight end Evan Engram (knee) is out too.
The other player who could see an increased role is Slayton, who is starting to show the promise the Giants expected when they drafted him in the fifth round. He missed most of the summer and the first two games of the regular season while dealing with a hamstring injury. But since he's had 9 catches for 157 yards -- including 4 for 62 and a 35-yard touchdown on Sunday. He's got speed and good hands and a natural big-play ability that could make him a fixture in the gameplan while Shepard is out.