Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard
Q. How does it feel to be back?
A: It feels great, man. Just to be back out there with the guys and actually going against somebody. I've been sitting over there for months, running routes by myself and just trying to visualize somebody there. To actually have somebody it honestly was 10 times better. I wasn't even thinking about my planting or anything like that. I felt great. It was good to back out there with the guys.
Q. What was it that said you were ready now?
A: Just me mentally and then they wanted to see a couple of things physically. Talked to a couple of doctors and see how they felt about it and they came in today, this morning, so everything looks good. I think it was the perfect timing for it.
Q. You've been through this so many times with different injuries. Do you have to do anything different? Or are you just going about it the way you always go about it and hope this isn't an injury year?
A: No, I'm going to go about it a little different. I've got to be smarter myself in what I allow myself to do and not really push back, because I'm one of those guys that likes to keep going and going and going and I know that I've got to take my time this time. Do things a bit different than I have in the past and just be patient. I think that's my main thing because I get antsy a lot of the times. I want to get in there three reps in a row – I may have to take one rep (and then) take a rep off, that's just the way it's got to go. I just think I've got to hold myself back sometimes.
Q. Do you think you pushed yourself too much last year when you came back?
A: Oh, 100 percent. Did I push myself too much? Yeah, there's only so much that they can do. They tell me what I need to do and try to save me from myself but last year I felt like – I'm one of those guys where I'll be like, 'I'm out here on the field and somebody's trying to come sub me. Get back, I'm about to go another rep.' But I just feel like this time around I've got to play it a little bit smarter and really listen to those guys because they know best, and they have my best interest. That's where my focus is.
Q. When (wide receiver) Golden Tate was here, you both played the slot and other positions. How does that help you with this new group of receivers, having that versatility?
A: Just the experience of being able to play outside? I mean Tate – even before that I was playing a little bit of outside. I've always had that versatility, but I mean, it's great having that experience being outside and knowing that I can win outside (and) I'm not just banked as a slot receiver. Especially when you've got guys like (Jamison) Crowder and (Cole) Beasley who've done it for many years at a high level, you want to be able to have that versatility. It's the easiest way on the field and you know those guys work magic in there, so you want to have those guys in there. The more playmakers that you can have on the field – I mean, we've got a lot of guys that could flat out go, so I enjoy that out there.
Q. You know Saquon as well as anybody. Do you think he was able to clean the slate when he walked back in here? How does Saquon Barkley look to you?
A: Of course, that's just what type of guy he is, that's just what type of teammate he is. I knew that he was going to be here just knowing that part of it. He's coming in here with a positive attitude and everybody's approached him the same way that they always have. He's in here working and that's what we wanted. I'm just happy to have him back. It's different when you have two-six in the building.
Q. Any feelings about how it worked out for him?
A: No, I mean, I stay in my own lane, boss. You know what I mean? I stay in my lane, baby. I'm just glad I got my boy back here with me and I get to see him every day.
Q. Do you and Saquon Barkley have conversations about everything that's been going on? You've had your conversations too, not with the tag, but you had to take a pay cut.
A: Yeah, we had conversations and that's something that I'll keep private. But yeah, we had conversations about everything that was going on. For sure, that's my best buddy.
Q. You were the young guy, now you're the veteran, you were the draft pick, then you had last year's pay cut – now you're really fighting for a spot. Talking about what you said with being smart and being patient, how does that go against you as a competitor that knows you've got something to earn?
A: It is what it is. I control what I can control and that's staying on the field – and when I'm on the field, doing something. However it shakes out, I believe in God and I believe that he has something planned for me regardless of however it shakes out. So, I control what I can control and that's being healthy and staying on the field. Then when I'm on the field and I get an opportunity – to show (my worth).
Q. How much is the running back value topic talked about in the locker room?
A: That's not in any of the conversations that I've been in. That is what it is. It's unfortunate but that's just the business side of it. It is what it is but as far as conversations in the locker room and stuff, hasn't been much. At least in my circle.
Q. You guys made the playoffs last year. Does that make you guys more optimistic this year about what you can do this year?
A: No, you've got to leave last year as last year. You can't bring it over into this season, everybody has a new team. You've got to start from zero and we've got to work our way to get back to a playoff team but that's not ultimately the goal for us. Our ultimate goal is to put a banner up here so yeah, it was great making the playoffs. It's been a while; it's been since I was a rookie that we've made the playoffs, so it was a great accomplishment but ultimately that's not what we're setting out to do when the season starts. Last year was a wash for us and we're a completely different team. I'm looking forward to what we've got.
Q. Is the banner what Head Coach Brian Daboll talks about? Is he setting that kind of expectation and tone internally?
A: Yeah, he tells us that every day. Exactly what I just told you is what he tells us. That's what our goal is. It's not to make the playoffs, it's to put a banner up here. Everybody knows that and that's the reason why we play this game. It's pretty clear.
Q. You've played with guys that are considered freaks of nature before. Where does (tight end Darren) Waller compare?
A: That boy (laughs), that boy's something special. I was telling people today, I don't even like for people to be on (Darren Waller) Wall's back. Like they've got tight coverage and they want to make a breakup but don't jump on my man's back. That boy's a monster. Did you see him go up and get that ball the other day? I was telling DJ (Daniel Jones), I was like, 'Man look, that thing would've been sailing over my head.' That boy Wall came out of nowhere! He looks good though. He's a freak.
Q. You're not guaranteed anything this year. What's your mindset and how do you approach that?
A: I told you, I'm just the type of guy – I don't worry about other stuff. I don't worry about how it's going to shake out. I don't worry about it. I just worry about where my feet are right now. What can I do to get better? Whatever the training staff has me do, how can I get better if they're going to have me sit out today? That's the situation I'm in right there. I'm going to listen to them but when I'm on the field, that's my job. I'm supposed to get open, catch the ball, that's what I'm focused on. Whatever decision or however it shakes out, that's just the way it shakes out. It isn't anything that I can do about it but do what I do, so that's the way that I approach it. Every day.