Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard -- August 17, 2020
Q: People look at this receiver group and say you have three pretty good receivers, you, Golden (Tate) and then Darius (Slayton), but no true number one receiver in terms of that. What do you think of that and how much do you guys want to prove that there is a guy or two who can be dominant in this group?
A: I think we’re all capable of making plays. I think the only thing that’s important, when it all boils down, is that can you trust the guy to make a play. I think we have three guys that are able to do that. Another guy who you forgot to mention is Evan Engram. He’s basically a wide receiver playing the tight end position. I think we have a lot of guys who can make plays. I don’t think we’re focused on putting a number on any of us.
Q: Two-part question. Is today just a natural extension of what you’ve done, or does putting on pads mean anything different?
A: It definitely brings some more juice to the practice. Guys haven’t been in pads since the last game of last season. Some of us were very excited about it. I know the coaches were fired up about it. It’s always like going to the first day of class. Guys were amped up in the locker room about it.
Q: The other is with a 90-minute practice, what do you notice that’s different?
A: Not too much. We’re moving at a rapid speed. Some of the drills are two-spotted so that we can get more reps. It just moves a lot quicker.
Q: We were just talking to Joe Judge about we saw today with coaches and players running laps. He said that’s related to making mistakes and consequences when you make a mistake. When was the last time you had to do that on a football team? Does that help instill and reinforce things like that? Did that catch you off guard when you found out you guys were going to do that?
A: It’s going to take everybody to buy in if we want to be the team that we said that we wanted to be. I think we have to buy into what Coach Judge has in store for us. If that’s what he has in store for us, running laps for mistakes, just don’t make mistakes. That’s a simple way to get out of doing that. But yeah, the last time I did it was probably middle school. But I’m embracing the change and I’m all for it.
Q: What do you notice about Joe Judge’s practices so far? What’s jumped out at you the way he runs things, the way he organizes it?
A: He’s really big on technique and playing smart with each other, playing at a fast pace and at game speed. But also playing smart and helping each other get better, and not playing sloppy football. You don’t want to see guys on the ground too much. That just comes with being technically sound. Yeah, that’s pretty much what I’ve seen from him.
Q: Are you surprised with how quickly everyone seems to be on the same page? There wasn’t a lot of wasted motion and wasted moments on the field today, and you guys have only had a handful of practices.
A: That’s something that we’ve been preparing for with some of the days that we had walkthroughs and stuff, that everybody knows where to go so that we don’t waste any time because time is valuable. We definitely rehearsed that on which field we were going to be on. We’re being told before the period changes what field we’re going to be on so that we’re able to get there and get the work done.
Q: Obviously, yourself, Golden and Darius are kind of established. But there are a bunch of young receivers on this team that haven’t gotten an opportunity yet or are rookies. Have any of those guys jumped out at you yet? What impresses you about some of those guys?
A: All of them have really impressed me. I’ve been seeing each one of them every day. Yesterday, they were making plays all over the field. They all have a special ability. All of those guys have been looking really good to me, and the way that they’ve been picking up the offense… They’ve had a little bit of extra time from the vets to be with the coaches over the Zoom calls and stuff. They have the offense down pat and they’re out there making plays.
Q: The intensity in practice, the attention to detail that you talked about, do you feel that that is stuff that was needed for this team based on the lack of success you guys have had the last couple of years?
A: I don’t think anyone is really focused on last year. I think everybody is just in the mode of embracing this change and really going all-in on it. I’m proud of the guys with the way they’ve been working. There are some things that are different. But like I said, we’re all embracing it. We know that we have to change in order to get on the right pace and get this team on the right speed.
Q: Corey Coleman. I think it was the first practice last training camp where he tore his ACL. It’s been a long year for him. Tell me what you saw from him being around the locker room last year and from, I think he was part of your workouts in the offseason. Physically and motivationally, where is he at?
A: It was a tough road for him. I’ve been with him the whole time. You can hardly even tell that he had that injury last year. He’s been working his butt off and he’s going to continue to do that. I’m really happy to see him back out there on the grass.
Q: How did he become part of the offseason and stuff you guys were doing, whether it was here or in Carolina? Was it his interest? Did you take leadership and say ‘Hey join us’? How did he join up those groups?
A: It was just something we all put together as an offense. It wasn’t just one person asking to come. It was kind of something that we all put together.
Q: With the pads going on and the defense being able to play a little bit better coverage and more physical and all that, what’s the biggest difference you’ve seen in Daniel (Jones), maybe to this point in camp, versus where he was a year ago?
A: You’re going to make strides your second season. That just comes with the game. He has the speed down and everything. He’s going to continue to progress in the right direction. He’s been doing a good job. He’s been working his tail off, and that’s all you can ask for.
Q: I know you had one workout, I saw you guys before camp started, when Darnay (Holmes) and Jabrill (Peppers) joined you guys over at one of the high school fields. I’m just curious what you’ve seen from Darnay so far? For a rookie, does he look like a rookie or is he kind of fitting in the way you might not expect from someone so young?
A: It’s a process for all of those guys. They’re learning a new defense, they’re coming over from college, trying to get the speed of the game down. I’ve been pretty impressed with a lot of the young DBs. I’m able to watch those guys. Darnay’s been working mostly inside, and then you have some guys that are playing corner as well. But I’m able to watch them because I’m going with JB (James Bradberry). I’ve been impressed with all of them, to be honest.
Q: Are you confident that football will make it this year?
A: Yeah, I’m hoping so. I know everyone in the building is and I know all of the fans are as well. We’ve been working like there’s going to be a season. That’s the way that we’ll continue to work.
Q: When you get out there, is it all about football? Can you put everything else behind you and turn focus away from the pandemic?
A: Yea,h it is. You get to get rid of the mask and just get out there and do what you love. I’ve always used football as an escape from anything that’s going on in the outside world. Yeah, it’s kind of an escape for all of us.
Q: You brought up Evan Engram before. What do you think he can be? Obviously, the injuries have been a problem the last couple of years he hasn’t gotten to play. What can he be in this offense if he gets to play 16 games?
A: You guys have seen him play. You know what he’s capable of. We all do. He’s going to continue to work and push to be the best player he can be. I’ve been proud of the way he’s been coming to work every day and his attention to detail. He’s been locked in and focused when I see him in the meeting rooms, staying extra to do extra work. I’m proud of how he’s been working.
Q: You’re pretty close with him. How much do you notice that it’s sort of like a make or break for him to show that he’s that player we’ve all seen in flashes?
A: I don’t think he’s focused on that. I just think he’s focused on the things that we have right now. He’s taking it day by day just like the rest of us, trying to get the system down and trying to be able to play as fast as he can play. I’m not going to speak for him, but just from seeing it and seeing all of the rest of the guys, that’s kind of where all of our focuses are.
Q: I know you have so much to focus on football wise, but you mentioned earlier putting the pads on felt like the first day of school. What was different about today? You usually have training camp with fans, the first 10 practices or so. What’s kind of been missing with that, or not, in this very different era of training camp and sports?
A: I don’t think too much is missing from that in that aspect. We go throughout the season with nobody there, so it’s kind of like just having another week’s practice. But yeah, it’s a little different before practice, just having to wear masks to the field, bussing over from MetLife. But you have to deal with sudden change in football, and that’s what all of the guys understand. I’m proud of the guys with how everybody’s been handling it.