NEED STARS TO SHEP UP!

Ster­ling & OBJ to play Gi­ant roles

New York Daily News - - SPORTS - BY JOHN HEALY

There has been a com­mon theme all sea­son be­tween head coach Ben McA­doo and quar­ter­back Eli Man­ning when speak­ing about the of­fense.

They both con­tinue to stress the im­por­tance of get­ting the ball in the hands of guys who can make plays.

It seems like an ob­vi­ous thing to say, but it is some­thing the Gi­ants had not ex­e­cuted un­til the fourth quar­ter against the Ea­gles last week. It re­sulted in a 24-point out­burst thanks mostly to get­ting the ball into the hands of Odell Beck­ham Jr. and Ster­ling Shep­ard, who com­bined for three touch­downs.

While there was much fan­fare at the start of the sea­son over the ad­di­tions of Bran­don Mar­shall and Evan En­gram, it was Shep­ard who re­minded ev­ery­one just what kind of a threat he is af­ter tak­ing a slant route 77 yards for a touch­down, which gave the Gi­ants a tem­po­rary lead.

“Odell and I have talked a long time about trust­ing my speed,” he said ear­lier this week. “Now I know I can do it and I can trust it.”

It cer­tainly should help them this up­com­ing Sun­day as the Gi­ants re­ceivers are tasked with a fa­vor­able matchup against a Buc­ca­neers se­condary that was torched for 35 points by Case Keenum and the Vik­ings last week.

The Vik­ings had 11 plays that ac­counted for 16 yards or longer, in­clud­ing a 20yard pass to Ste­fon Diggs, which he turned into a 59yard touch­down.

While the idea of go­ing against a weak pass de­fense can be sali­vat­ing, the Gi­ants know they still have to do their part. “I just feel like it’s a com­bi­na­tion of a lot of things,” Shep­ard said. “They had time to throw the ball and re­ceivers ran their routes pretty good and got open and made good catches. That’s how our mind­set is.” The chal­lenge the Gi­ants face will be get­ting fa­vor­able matchups for Beck­ham. The star re­ceiver drew at­ten­tion away from the two touch­downs he scored against the Ea­gles with a crude cel­e­bra­tion, but what has gone over­looked is that Beck­ham made two im­pres­sive plays in oneon-one cov­er­age, a sce­nario the Gi­ants most def­i­nitely pre­fer. “It’s tough to get Odell the ball,” McA­doo said on Fri­day. “Teams most of the time cloud him or play a ver­sion of two-man to him or dou­ble him in some sort of way. So, it’s a chal­lenge to get him the ball, so when you have an op­por­tu­nity to get him the ball, you have to take ad­van­tage of it.” Of course, the one thing that will help the Gi­ants make the most of the pass­ing game is if they can get the run­ning game go­ing, which they have yet to do. The Gi­ants have rushed for a to­tal of 35, 62, and 49 yards in each of their first three games, re­spec­tively. “I think our of­fense is at its best when we are run­ning the ball well,” McA­doo said. “It takes the pres­sure off the quar­ter­back. You run the ball well, it opens things in the ac­tion pass game and the quar­ter­back has a chance to com­plete the ball.” When that hap­pens, you can count on guys like Beck­ham and Shep­ard mak­ing the plays they did last week.

GETTY

Ster­ling Shep­ard’s 77-yard TD sprint on a slant route last Sun­day against Ea­gles is the type of game-chang­ing play Gi­ants need from him in or­der to draw some at­ten­tion away from Odell Beck­ham Jr. (inset).

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