Darius Powe is the unknown who could shake up the Giants wide receiver room

Darius Powe has shown enough so far to Giants coaches that he has earned some reps with the first team. Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants wide receiver room is filled with players like Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard. They're the headliners and do their damage daily even though Shepard left practice early Wednesday with an ankle sprain.

For all the star power, it's a much lesser known wide receiver who has made the biggest impact during the first two days of padded practice at Giants training camp. Darius Powe, the second-year wideout out of California, led all receivers in catches during live drills.

Powe had four grabs on Tuesday and six on Wednesday. He's even snuck in some first-team reps, an opportunity he's earned with a strong spring and fast start to camp.

"It's good to be out there with the ones," Powe said. "Definitely boosts your confidence. It's definitely what I live off of and play off of."

Powe was among a handful of receivers to step into a bigger role after Shepard was carted off with the ankle injury. Tavarres King and Roger Lewis also saw increased opportunities.

"A handful of guys responded well because of reps," coach Ben McAdoo said. "We completed some balls today from an offensive perspective, so that was encouraging."

Powe waited patiently for this opportunity after spending all of last season on the practice squad. He's one of only two Giants players (linebacker Stansly Maponga was the other) to spend the entire season on the practice squad.

Powe made an impression last summer as an undrafted free agent out of California. His size was intriguing, but he needed to improve his route running.

He spent the past year becoming a better receiver and gaining confidence. This summer he also went to self-described "fat camp" and dropped five pounds.

Powe's playing at 216 pounds and is admittedly much more confident on the field. He says what he can bring to the receiving corps is a player who can consistently catch the ball and get open. He's big and plays big, which has been apparent in practice with all the catches he's made in traffic and near the sideline.

The question is, where does Powe fit in with the Giants? Beckham, Marshall and Shepard are locks to be on the roster. King, Harris and Lewis were on the roster last season, and Harris brings extra value as a Pro Bowl special teams player. Powe is sort of Marshall's backup. He brings a similar skill set with his 6-foot-3 frame and ability to go up and get the football.

"He's a big-body guy," quarterback Josh Johnson said. "We have a couple of those guys, so just being able to put the ball on them, they're strong. They create separation with their strength. They're nice, big targets."

The Giants may now have too many capable targets, even if it's a good problem to have.

Other practice notables:

  • Starting quarterback Eli Manning went an impressive 14-of-15 passing during live drills at Wednesday's practice. He had a solid day, even if there weren't many downfield connections.

  • The backup quarterback battle had Johnson with the second team and Geno Smith with the third. Johnson was 9-of-14 passing with one ball batted down by the yard markers posing as defensive linemen, and Smith was 6-of-8. Both Johnson and Smith made their fair share of impressive throws. Call it a draw.

  • Right guard D.J. Fluker flashed for the second consecutive day. He moves well for a mammoth human being, and when he gets his hands on a defender in the run game, it's over. It's all about consistency with Fluker, though.

  • Running back Orleans Darkwa ran hard and caught the ball out of the backfield well. He had three catches in live drills, including a tough grab of an off-target throw in 11-on-11 drills.

  • Practice was definitely spirited. There were several scrums. One involved linebacker B.J. Goodson and Darkwa. Another involved guard Justin Pugh and linebacker Devon Kennard. The Giants linebackers have become a tough, physical group.

Injury update: Wide receiver Sterling Shepard (ankle) and offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker (foot) left practice early. Cornerback Valentino Blake (back) missed practice. He had lower back tightness, a problem that has plagued him since the start of camp.

Running back Shane Vereen (leg) and defensive end Devin Taylor (leg) worked on the side with a trainer.

Linebacker J.T. Thomas (knee) and running back Shaun Draughn (ankle) remain on PUP.