Veteran edge rusher Jabaal Sheard became an unlikely hero for the Giants last Sunday in their 19-17 win against the Cincinnati Bengals when he sacked quarterback Brandon Allen and forced a game-clinching fumble in the final minute.
Due to injuries at the outside linebacker spot, Sheard has gone from being out of work to being on track to make his second start for the Giants this Sunday when the Giants visit the Seattle Seahawks.
Sheard, a 10-year NFL veteran, spent all of training camp and the first five weeks of the season as a stay-at-home dad. He signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad on October 12, 2020, where five days later, he was elevated to the active roster on October 17 for the team's Week 6 game against the Lions.
He was then signed by the Giants on October 20, 2020, after the team lost Lorenzo Carter for the season to an Achille injury.
Sheard, a Super Bowl champion with 51.5 career sacks, said having to spend time on the practice squad was something he never expected.
"It was humbling," he said. "You go through the workout and I've never done a workout either in free agency. So it was very humbling, practice squad I just knew I had to get on the field and prove myself and that was my mindset."
Since joining the Giants, the outside linebacker group has thinned out some more. New York traded Markus Golden to the Cardinals and Have lost Oshane Ximines to injured reserve. They also placed Kyler Fackrell on IR this week, though the hope there is to get him back before the season ends.
"We all know in football it's always about the next man up and always being ready for your opportunity. It's tough with football and obviously not having the offseason this year," Sheard said.
"Things happen. In football, we always have to be prepared and ready to go whenever your number is called. In the outside linebacker room, we have a great group of guys that all want to eat. Young guys, young talented guys. At any given time, they are able to make a play."
Sheard has been trying to make a difference for the Giants while sporting the jersey number of one of the franchise's legendary players, that being two-time Suoer Bowl champion Justin Tuck.
"When I got here, that was the biggest pressure. You're giving me this number, it's one of the greats that was here with the Giants," Sheard said. "I'm honored to wear the number. I'm just going to make the best out of it. Rock out as a G-man."
This week's outside linebacker group, which includes Cam Brown, Carter Coughlin, and, potentially, Niko Lalos if he's elevated from the practice squad, will get a baptism by fire against me of the top-scoring offenses as led by MVP candidate quarterback Russell Wilson.
"We know [Wilson] is dangerous," Sheard said. "He's going to run around and create plays downfield for his guys. Being here and seeing the secondary, they do so well covering. If we can just keep him in the pocket as much as possible and keep him from running around as much as possible. I think it will give us a great chance."
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