Optimism on Sterling Shepard as Giants return from bye still banged up

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The injury report didn’t ease up on the New York Giants even after a bye week. They returned for their first full practice Wednesday with nine players on the list.

Among them was wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who appeared to be moving well after missing the previous two games with an ankle injury. This is good news. Shepard was back on the field cutting and running at full speed after participating in Monday’s light workout, when he admittedly felt good.

The second-year receiver was trending in the right direction prior to the Giants' previous game against the Seattle Seahawks, but felt pain in the ankle late in the week. This time he appears to be trending in the right direction as the Giants prepare to face the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

"I'm straight this time," Shepard told ESPN after practice.

Offensive lineman Justin Pugh (back) was not at Wednesday's practice. Neither were safety Nat Berhe (calf), tight end Rhett Ellison (personal matter) or cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who is suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules and will not play against his former team on Sunday.

Center Weston Richburg (concussion) was dressed for Wednesday's practice but watched from the sidelines. He has missed the Giants' past three games. Meanwhile, defensive ends Olivier Vernon (ankle) and Kerry Wynn (knee) and linebacker B.J. Goodson (ankle) worked on the side with a trainer.

Linebackers Jonathan Casillas (neck) and Calvin Munson (quad) and Shepard were all limited participants. So was defensive tackle Robert Thomas (calf) who left the practice early.

Running back Paul Perkins (ribs) was a full participant, but still faces an uphill battle to find playing time with Orleans Darkwa and Wayne Gallman having success in previous weeks.

The Giants are hoping to have some of their injured players return this week. But they do have serious question marks, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They signed defensive end Devin Taylor and elevated Jordan Williams from the practice squad because of concerns with Vernon and Wynn.

They also had only seven healthy offensive linemen on the field Wednesday at practice. Bobby Hart was one of them. He would likely be reinserted into the starting lineup at right tackle if Pugh is unable to play. Brett Jones would remain at center in place of Richburg.