Sterling Shepard's 2021 season ended early when he tore his left Achilles tendon in a December game against the Dallas Cowboys. On Monday — again against the Cowboys — Shepard appeared to sustain another significant injury. On the final Giants snap of the game, Shepard pulled up on a route and clutched his left knee. He wasn't touched on the play. He fell to the ground in obvious pain and eventually left the field on a cart.
The Giants didn't provide a diagnosis after the 23-16 loss. But head coach Brian Daboll acknowledged that "it didn't look good." If it is a season-ending injury, it marks another brutal blow for one of the franchise's most beloved players.
Prior to his Achilles tear, Shepard's 2020 campaign was limited to seven games because of injury. Now his comeback appears to be cut short just three games in after he worked to be ready for Week 1. His contract is expiring after he agreed to void the final year of his deal.
Shepard's played his entire six-plus season career in New York since the Giants selected him in the second round of the 2016 draft. He's been there long enough to have actually played in a playoff game in a Giants uniform. He's admired around the league. As soon as he got on the cart, players from both teams approached him to pay their respect.
After the game, Giants players spoke about the injury and how much Shepard means to the team.
"It's just real tough to see that for sure," quarterback Daniel Jones said. "A guy that works so hard, battling back from an injury last year. I feel for him as a teammate, a close friend. Yeah, that's tough to see."
Fellow wide receiver Kenny Golladay told reporters that seeing Shepard go down "choked me up."
"That's my brother," Golladay said. "I know what all he did to get back to playing. He was ready Week 1. He just comes with a lot of energy on the sidelines, in practice, throughout the meeting room.
"It hurt me when I saw him go down like that grabbing a knee. It still hurts — almost choked me up a little bit to be totally honest. Just because I know — I've grown a relationship with him, and I know how much he's actually put in and how much he actually cares about it."
Left tackle Andrew Thomas called the injury "heartbreaking."
Daboll, who just wrapped his third game as Giants coach, told reporters: "I just feel terrible for the guy."
The Giants expect to know more about the injury on Tuesday after testing.