Shepard bringing a team-first mentality to New York Giants

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard has had quite an offseason.

The New York Giants 2016 second-round pick got married to model Chanel Inman in March, and the couple is expecting their first child next month.

Shepard believes the changes are helping him mature as well as put a focus on what’s most important, via New York’s team website.

New York Giants
New York Giants /

New York Giants

"“Last year I didn’t have a wife, and I didn’t have a baby on the way. A lot has changed, but I think it’s for the better. It settles me down a little bit.”"

The Giants 5-foot-10, 194-pound receiver has already proven his maturity on the field. He became the team’s No. 1 wide receiver after Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall went down with season-ending injuries in Week 5.

Despite playing in just 11 games, Shepard caught 59 passes for 731 yards in his second season. But the 24-year-old receiver is not concerned about personal stats ahead of his third season. He only cares about wins.

"“As long as we’re winning games, I don’t really care how it comes together. I just don’t want to have another season like last year, so whoever gets the ball, I know that you can trust in them to make big plays. I’m happy about that.”"

The former Oklahoma Sooner is not used to losing. He helped the Giants posted their first winning record (11-5) since 2012 in his rookie year.

Giants fans can only hope his team-first mentality is infectious. Big Blue obviously didn’t bring that approach with them into the 2017 season under Ben McAdoo. So much so that Damon Harrison was hesitant to become New York’s defensive captain.

That already seems to be changing under Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur. The players are saying the right things, and there’s a new energy surrounding the team given the personnel moves made this offseason.

Utilizing Big Blue’s Strengths

The Giants have no need to be concerned about individual stats. Sure, it would be nice to see Olivier Vernon rack up double-digit sacks and for Saquon Barkley to be a touchdown machine, but what really matters is wins.

It will be up to Shurmur and James Bettcher to put the players in a place where they can succeed. It’s then up to the players to execute on the field.

Shepard is taking more of a diverse role under New York’s 18th head coach.

"“You can call me an inside receiver, but in this offense you kind of have to know every single position, because you’ll be stuck anywhere on the field, so I like that about it. It just kind of gives some diversity to the offense and keeps the defense guessing.”"

Shurmur knows he has a stable of playmakers in Shepard, Beckham, Barkley, and Evan Engram. Getting them the ball in open space will be key to the offense’s success.

Shepard showcased what he could do with the ball in his hands late in games last season. He averaged the most yards after catch in the fourth quarter and overtime of any receiver in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

That’s surely something Shurmur will look to utilize. Shepard has already noticed how Big Blue’s new head coach looks to create space for his playmakers.

"“You get a chance to run after the catch, especially in this offense. Coach Shurmur does a good job of just getting guys open. The schemes are crazy, and yeah, we’re looking good.”"

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Getting Shepard, Barkley, or Beckham the ball in open space is a scary sight for an opposing defense. It doesn’t matter who gets the ball. All three have the ability to make game-changing plays.

As Shepard said, all that matters is winning.