Early training camp is unkind to the Giants’ receiving corps

Jamie C. Harris | 8/1/2019, 11:50 a.m.
Call it the curse of Odell.
Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard is in jeopardy of missing the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys due to a fractured thumb Contributed

Call it the curse of Odell.

The Giants wide receiving unit has been wrecked by injuries and a suspension a little over a week into training camp.

This is not to imply Odell Beckham Jr., the former Giants two-time Second Team All-Pro wide receiver who was traded to the Cleveland Browns in March, wishes negativity on his erstwhile teammates, but for those that believe in unseen forces, kismet seems to have inserted itself into the Giants’ strained relationship with Beckham.

Last Thursday, speedster Corey Coleman, ironically a 2016 first-round draft pick of the Browns and the Giants No. 3 receiver to start camp, tore an anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and is out for the season. The 25-year-old Coleman was also a key member of the special teams unit as a kick returner. On the the same day, Sterling Shepard, who was elevated to the No.1 receiver when Beckham was traded, sustained a fractured thumb that is likely to sideline him for the remainder of camp and possibly the regular season opener on Sept. 8 against the Cowboys in Dallas.

On Saturday, Golden Tate, who the Giants signed as a free-agent in March to a four-year, $37.5 million deal with over $23 million guaranteed, was suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy. Additionally, rookie Darius Slayton, who the Giants selected in the fifth round from Auburn in April’s draft, suffered a slight hamstring injury on Tuesday.

The disruption of the receiving corps impacts the entire offensive unit and puts an increased responsibility on expected starting quarterback Eli Manning and running back Saquon Barkley, but in turn provides an opportunity to the healthy receivers such as Bennie Fowler, Cody Latimer and Russell Shepard.

“I think it’s unfortunate—I feel bad for Corey Coleman with the ACL,” said Manning on Tuesday at camp. “Hopefully we can get Slayton back; Shep will hopefully be back soon. He’s at least able to run routes and be able to throw some routes. We don’t want him to get in bad habits, he has to catch everything with one hand. Not throwing him the ball but we can have him run the route full speed. I can look at him, I can see his body language and still kind of get some timing stuff.

“When he comes back from the thumb he won’t be a step behind. I think it’s a great opportunity to get Cody going and get some of these young receivers going. Getting Bennie Fowler and Evan Engram moving around. I think its an opportunity for other guys to step up and see what they do.”

The Giants begin their preseason schedule versus the Jets next Thursday.