Shepard enters his third season with the Giants with a desire to show that he’s more than just a slot receiver. He’s taken 330 snaps as an outside receiver during his career. Former head coach Ben McAdoo was a proponent of cross-training his receivers so they could play any position in the offense.
New head coach Pat Shurmur employs a similar method. Shepard has been playing as an outside receiver more often in this new offense.
“I’ve been doing a lot on the outside,” Shepard said after Tuesday’s practice.
Shepard has been pigeonholed as a slot receiver since his collegiate days at Oklahoma. He has been used primarily in the slot during his NFL career. Shepard took 83 percent of his snaps in the slot during his 2016 rookie season. The number decreased to 75 percent last season.
“That’s been that way since college,” Shepard said. “I feel like I’ve proven that I can play outside and just to try to handle my business. I know I can play outside, and we’ll soon see.”
Shepard has definitely handled his business in his first two seasons: 124 receptions for 1,414 yards and 10 touchdowns (At the same time, each of Shepard’s touchdowns came with him playing in the slot). He led the team in receiving yards and was second on the team in receptions after Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall suffered season-ending injuries.
Shepard became the team’s No. 2 receiver when they released Marshall after he played in just five games. He may be asked to take on a different role in Shurmur’s offense.
Shumur used three-wide receiver sets with the Minnesota Vikings less than the Giants did over the past two seasons. The Giants used 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers) on first-and-10 plays 52 percent of the time in 2017 and 87 percent in 2016. The Vikings used the same formation on 46 percent of their first-and-10 plays in 2017 and 54 percent in 2016.
“Yeah, with the guys going down (to injury last season), I was able to get an opportunity to play outside a little bit more,” Shepard said. “And, for the most part, I felt like I executed it…but, yeah, I’m looking forward to being out there and maybe getting more looks.”