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WR Sterling Shepard stands out as Giants practice without Odell Beckham Jr.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Odell Beckham Jr. had on his helmet and cleats while the New York Giants practiced Tuesday. But he stood and watched, relatively expressionless as he was sidelined by a lower leg injury that occurred Sunday when he was accidentally cleated by cornerback Janoris Jenkins.

Beckham was "tender" and had "some swelling," according to coach Ben McAdoo. It doesn't appear serious. The Pro Bowl receiver worked Tuesday on a side field with strength and conditioning coach Aaron Wellman.

After they were done with their work, Beckham had the opportunity to watch the padded action. What he saw was rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard making plays.

Shepard worked with the first-team offense and caught several passes during team drills. None were more impressive than when he plucked an Eli Manning pass out of the air in the middle of the field during a no-huddle drill.

That part of Shepard’s game impressed McAdoo during the Giants' first day in pads. But there was still room to nitpick.

"I didn’t like his kickoff return drill. Kickoff, kickoff return drill; we talked about that," McAdoo said. "As a receiver, I think that he played strong [Tuesday]."

The latter is becoming a trend. Shepard began making plays in the spring, and it has continued into the summer.

As one NFC executive told me in recent weeks, "He’s going to be a really good player."

It’s hard to argue given the early returns.

The starting WRs

Shepard took the first snap of team drills out of the slot. Geremy Davis and Myles White worked on the outside. White dropped a pass on the play.

Victor Cruz, being brought along slowly following consecutive seasons ruined by injuries, came onto the field in the slot for the second play. White exited and Shepard bounced outside.

Another receiver who had a strong day and continues to receive some first-team snaps is Roger Lewis Jr. He made a nice grab with a defender on his back later in practice.

Cruz also caught his first pass of the summer in 11-on-11 drills on the same drive that Shepard made his impressive catch. Cruz had a better day Tuesday then he did on Sunday.

Right side of line

The Giants had their first practice of the summer Tuesday in pads. It was the first opportunity to really see what the linemen could do.

The oft-criticized right side consisting of tackle Marshall Newhouse and John Jerry seemed to have a strong day. Newhouse had some success slowing down Jason Pierre-Paul, and they communicated well on another play when the Giants defensive front ran a stunt.

The third TE in the mix

Perhaps the biggest play of practice came from tight end Matt LaCosse. He caught a pass from Manning during 11-on-11, no-huddle drills and raced downfield for a big gain.

It wasn’t LaCosse's only reception either. He caught at least one other pass from Manning on an out pattern.

Will Tye and Larry Donnell might be the recognizable names for the Giants at tight end. But don’t sleep on LaCosse. He impressed enough in the spring to earn first-team snaps. He’s still getting them this summer.

In my estimation, it’s a three-man race between Tye, Donnell and LaCosse to be the Giants' starting tight end. It’s worth noting they’ve also been running a lot of two-tight-end sets at practice.

Other observations

More Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie working out of the slot on Tuesday. Not so much for rookie Eli Apple or Janoris Jenkins. This doesn't appear as if it's going away. ... First-team slot cornerback Trevin Wade knocked down a pass during Tuesday's practice. ... Rookie tight end Jerell Adams made a big play down the middle of the field on a pass from third-string quarterback Logan Thomas. ... Thomas looked indecisive throughout the practice. He was holding the ball for a long time, and several times broke the pocket and ran. ... Running back Orleans Darkwa had a strong day running the football. He hit the holes hard and fast.