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Sterling Shepard no longer limited as healthier Giants team returns to practice

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants came away from their loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers relatively healthy. It may be the most important takeaway from Friday’s preseason opener. Only safety Duke Ihenacho -- a veteran fighting for a bottom-end-of-the-roster job -- left the contest with an injury.

And on Sunday when the Giants returned to practice, the injury news only seemed to get better.

Wide receiver Sterling Shepard (ankle) appeared to be a full participant in practice for the first time since suffering the injury. He participated in individual and team drills, including live 11-on-11 scrimmaging.

Defensive tackle Robert Thomas (soreness) and linebacker Mark Herzlich (stinger) also returned to practice in some capacity. Thomas was limited while Herzlich participated in some of the team drills but wore a special yellow pinny presumably to avoid contact.

Linebacker Keenan Robinson (concussion) was also on the field for the first time in over a week. He worked on the side with a trainer. It was the same for wide receivers Tavarres King (ankle) and Kevin Snead (lower body) and safety Ryan Murphy (lower body). They worked with trainers.

These are steps in a positive direction. So was the news on the two Giants on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Running back Shaun Draughn (ankle) and linebacker J.T. Thomas (knee) appear set for a return to practice soon, potentially this week. They are “getting close,” according to coach Ben McAdoo.

General manager Jerry Reese revealed in a radio interview last week that Draughn underwent surgery in the spring. He was supposed to compete for a roster spot this summer, and now he has ground to make up.

Thomas, 29, tore his knee in the opening game last season against the Dallas Cowboys. His rehab has stretched into the spring and early this summer.

The only seemingly negative injury news was on wide receiver Kevin Norwood, who left Sunday's practice on a cart with a hip injury, and tight end Colin Thompson, who didn't practice after having his appendix removed on Saturday.

The healthier Giants have another week until they play again. They plan to practice the next two days in pads, then take off Thursday before beginning preparations for their second preseason game next Monday night against the Cleveland Browns. They will run through a mock game-week schedule in the lead-up to that contest, but it gives the injured players some time to potentially be ready for the game.