Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard
Q: How did that feel?
A: Felt great just being back on the field. I mean, it's a blessing. Especially when you go through an injury like that, and you've been on the sidelines for so long watching those guys get after it, you got to take every day and cherish them. Because you never know when you have to sit out that long. So, I was just blessed to be out there and happy to be out there with my guys.
Q: When you got hurt in late December, did you think it was realistic to be back at this point?
A: Yeah. I mean, that's always been kind of the timeline, and I had to work my tail off. They told me that if that was going to be the case, then I'd have to put in overtime and do a lot to get back. Just dedicated to the process; it was as a long road. But it felt great to be back there like I said.
Q: Did you put the red tee-shirt in the incinerator?
A: Yeah. We had to burn that joint. I don't ever want to see it again.
Q: Do you have any doubt in your mind that you'll be ready for Week 1?
A: I'm just listening to the guys, just listening to them and whatever they tell me to do, and wherever they see me progressing, that's what I'm going to go with. I'll listen to the (athletic) trainers and (Senior Vice President, Medical Services/Head Athletic Trainer) Ronnie (Barnes) and those guys, they know best.
Q: Do they think you're going to be ready? Have they told you you're going to be ready?
A: I'm not sure. That's a question you have to ask Ronnie, but that's what I'm pushing for. That's what I've worked my tail off for, so I'm hoping that's the case. I just have to keep doing my thing day-by-day, and we'll see what happens.
Q: What kind of limitations do you have, if any? Or what do you need to get game ready or season ready?
A: Obviously, this is my first day back, and it was a full pad practice. I haven't had on pads since I got hurt. So, it was kind of tough being thrown in the fire with the pads on, but I just have taken it day-by-day, limited kind of in some of the team reps, they're throwing me in slowly. But I'll work my way up and get my conditioning and my wind up. I've been playing this game since I was six years old, so kind of know what it looks like.
Q: It's a new offense, but you're probably more familiar with the quarterback than anybody else in the room. So, does that balance itself out when you're out there trying to feel your way through this process?
A: Yeah, for sure. But it's been a while since (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) and I have actually gotten to throw. Since I've been on PUP, I haven't been able to catch any passes from him. So, we have a rapport, but we have to freshen things up and build that connection back again. So, he's been throwing to different guys and getting a feel for those guys. And it shouldn't take us long. But I'll get back out there with him after practice and throw a couple balls around. And we should get back on track pretty easy.
Q: You getting used to that triple motion? They're really running you hard there.
A: That was like (running) suicides. I'm not going to lie. I was tired today. It was tough today, but we got through it. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
Q: You're obviously productive when you're healthy. So, how much do you view this season at the end of your contract as you're showing people, 'You know what? I can still be that guy,"?
A: That's always the goal. I think every player wants to be healthy. It's a very violent game that we play, and you can do everything in your power to take care of your body. And sometimes, things just happen. Fatigue happens to everybody, so that can be the cause. But yeah, I'm going to do everything in my power to take care of my body and be out there for my guys. And when I'm out there, I always give it all I got. I play with a lot of passion and a lot of heart, so I'm going to continue to do that. I'm not going to change my style of play just to try to stay safe.
Q: For the past three weeks, have you simply worked with the trainers, attended meetings and pulled your hair out a little bit, or what?
A: Yeah. I mean this is like my happy place. So, when I'm not able to be out there with my guys, it's stressful. So yeah, I've been itching, itching at the bit to get out there with the guys. Been on the side running and doing everything, but like I said, I was pretty tired today. All that running on the side doesn't really compare to being out there at practice and actually going through drills and going through team sets.
Q: On paper, what you do well seems to make you a pretty good fit for this offense. Do you see it that way? I know it's only been one day of actually practicing. Do you see this an offense that can really get the best out of you?
A: Yeah. (Head Coach Brian Daboll) Dabs gives us a lot of freedom to get open and I think that suits a lot of the guys that we have well. (Wide Receiver) Wan'Dale (Robinson) does a great job. He's a quick twitch guy. (Wide Receiver Kadarius Toney) KT, me. That type of player can really thrive in this offense. But we have to do our part in it and really lock in and work hard at it.
Q: Was there any uncertainty? I think back to when (General Manager) Joe Schoen was hired, and you were in here. And Dabs was hired, and you were in here. What was running through your mind back then about actually still being here wearing the NY on your chest?
A: As you know, in this line of work, nothing is promised. So, it was a little nerve-wrecking. You have to think about your family and what you're going to do with them. So, those thoughts were running through my head, but I'm a big believer in God. And whatever he has in store for me is what I'm meant to go through. So, I just put my trust in him, and I'm happy to be here. I love this place. I love everybody in this building. I've been here for seven years now and it's been a blessing just being here. You hear stories about other places around the league, and there's no place like here. And this is where I wanted to be. This is where I want my family to be, and I'm glad we could make it work.
Q: Do you see a future for yourself here considering they drafted Kadarius? Do you see a long-term future for yourself here considering who they drafted?
A: I'm not really worried about what's going to happen in the future. Just trying to stay present and focus on the season. That's my number one focus, getting this team on the right track. It's been a while since I won games, so my number one goal is to get this team and to get this franchise back to where we're supposed to be.
Q: Did anybody ask you to carry a helmet or introduce yourself?
A: I wish they would ask me to carry a helmet. No, they didn't give me a hard time. It was just a lot of guys just dapping me up and telling me that they're happy to see me back out there, which felt really good. I'm going to do my best to stay out there with my guys. I love the game, and I love being around them. That's one of my favorite things in the world besides my kids and my family – being out here playing with those guys. So, I'm just going to cherish every day.
Q: Thoughts on tomorrow with the Jets coming here? You've obviously been in this city. You know what it's like. You think you're going to get a little chance to go against green?
A: I don't know what they have in store for me. Like I said, I'm going to listen to the trainers, and it's a day-by-day thing with me and just in terms of what they want me to do and how much they want to push it. That was my first day, and I felt good. But I have to see how I feel tomorrow and how I recover. And we'll see what they say.
Q: Does it mean more versus the Jets though – the fact that it is a cross-town team at this point?
A: Of course. It's always been like a little rivalry with them. And we always have a pretty good game in the preseason. Those guys are fired up. It's like who's going to be the little brother. You know what I mean? So, we're getting prepared for them. And we're looking forward to the game.
& I'm assuming this is his final season in blue?