EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Sterling Shepard was the first Giants receiver to head to the trainers' room on Sunday, and he's the only one of the four who'll eventually be back.
It just might not be this week.
Shepard, now the Giants' defacto No. 1 receiver, was in a walking boot on Tuesday, two days after he suffered a sprained left ankle in the Giants' loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. He said it was "kind of similar" to the sprained left ankle he suffered in early August. He was back at practice six days after that injury and ended up missing one preseason game.
But he said has "no idea" if he'll be ready for the Giants game Sunday night in Denver.
"I'm doing a lot better," Shepard said. "Feels a lot better than it did yesterday, so that's a good start."
At this point, the Giants will take any good news about their receivers, in the wake of their catastrophic series of injuries on Sunday. They lost Odell Beckham (broken ankle), Brandon Marshall (ankle) and Dwayne Harris (broken foot) for the season. In a moment of gallows humor, Shepard laughed at the memory of them forming a line waiting for MRIs.
"Man, I've never seen anything like it, especially from one unit," Shepard said. "It was one guy after another coming into the training room. I was actually going to go pick up my medicine and I heard about Odell. They all crushed me, but to end it all off and have him out, it's crazy to see."
Shepard is now, by far, the most accomplished receiver left on the Giants' roster. He has 22 catches for 263 yards and one touchdown this season, which eclipses the career totals of the other four. Without Shepard, the Giants would go into Denver with second-year pro Roger Lewis, the newly re-signed Tavarres King, and Travis Rudolph and Ed Eagan, who were both promoted off the practice squad.
Together, they have a combined career total of 19 catches for 262 yards.
So yes, the Giants want Shepard to make a speedy recovery. Obviously they have to be mindful that this is now a recurring injury, but Shepard said other than taping his ankles - something he did regularly in college, but stopped doing in the NFL - he doesn't think that will change his approach.
"No, I don't think so," Shepard said. "I just kind of do the same steps I did last time, and just kind of not think about it whenever I get back out there. When you think about it that's when stuff tends to happen again. You just have to wipe it out of your memory."
And if he has to battle through pain all season long, he said he learned how to do that last season when he battled a toe injury - sesamoiditis - that the Giants never revealed.
"It's something new every season," Shepard said. "That just comes along with the game that we're playing."