Oct. 25 (UPI) -- The New York Giants have a completely new look after trading a Pro Bowl pass catcher and benching a two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback, but wide receiver Sterling Shepard says a "next-man-up" mentality has helped guide the team through the turnover.
Shepard knows both sides of the philosophy first hand. He became the team's top wide receiver after Odell Beckham Jr. was traded to the Cleveland Browns in March. He also watched rookie Darius Slayton and veteran Golden Tate step into larger roles after he entered the concussion protocol, forcing him to miss the team's last two games.
"It's a next-man-up mentality," said Shepard, who expects to return to the Giants lineup in Week 8 or Week 9. "That's kinda of where the team has been with it. Wayne stepped up huge for us and got us a win. He stepped up big for us. It's the next man up."
Gallman entered the Giants' Week 3 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after Barkley sustained an ankle injury. He led the Giants to a win the next week against the Washington Redskins, picking up a career-high 118 yards from scrimmage and two scores.
But the Giants made their biggest move of the season when they benched veteran quarterback Eli Manning for rookie Daniel Jones.
Manning handled the demotion with class. He can be seen on the sideline every Sunday speaking to Jones and mentoring the young gunslinger. He uses his experience to make Jones better, snap-by-snap, while still sporting the captain's C on his jersey.
None of it surprises Shepard, who also watched Manning get benched in 2017.
Manning as a mentor
"That's the way I expected Eli to respond to the news," Shepard said of Manning's benching. "I've been around where he had to sit out a game when Geno Smith was here. He did the same thing that he did this time: become a leader in a different aspect.
"He has been doing a great job of getting Daniel ready for the games and helping him out with different looks [defensive formations] he may see. He goes back and looks at looks from years ago so he'll be ready on game day."
When it comes to looks and mannerisms, you might see some similarities between Manning and Jones. Both carry a calm demeanor, display similar facial expressions during interviews and are even the same 6-foot-5 height. Jones weighs 221 pounds, while Manning weights 220 pounds. Jones also prepares like a veteran, something Shepard said he isn't used to seeing when it comes to a rookie quarterback.
The similarities between Manning and Jones aren't lost on Shepard and his teammates.
"They have some of the same mannerisms," Shepard said. "You can definitely see it. We joke around about it all the time. They are completely different players, but he does kind of remind you of a young Eli."
Jones was also coached at Duke by David Cutcliffe, who coached Eli Manning at Ole Miss after being Peyton Manning's offensive coordinator at Tennessee. Jones also attended the Manning Passing Academy during his development as a young passer, forming a relationship with the brothers before he got to the NFL.
Another similarity between Manning and Jones is how they command a huddle. Jones gave teammates a first glance at his presence in the huddle during the preseason, showing a fire that most fans don't get to see during interviews.
"He would bring a lot of spunk to the huddle," Shepard said. "When I got to experience that first hand, it was different for me. But I liked it a lot. He brings a lot of energy to the offense.
"When he gets that look in his eyes, he means business. He is very locked into the game plan before the game, but he just lets it all loose when he gets onto the field. That's something that my teammates loves about him."
Jones, 22, has struggled in his last three starts, throwing three touchdowns while tossing five interceptions and fumbling three times, but Giants coach Pat Shurmur says he isn't considering going back to Manning as the starter.
Jones and the Giants' future
Wide receiver Golden Tate said he isn't going to lower his expectations for Jones, despite his rookie status. Tate also said he has seen growth from Jones when it comes to reading defenses.
"You see [jones] doing a lot of good things, making a lot of good plays," Tate told reporters Monday. "There are just a few that we all have to clean up. I think it's pretty easy just to look at [Jones] and try to blame him for a lot of things. Receivers have to run better routes, backs have to do better, the tight ends have to be better, the offensive line has to be better. I think we'll get this thing going."
The Giants look to end a three-game losing streak in Week 8 when they face the Detroit Lions at 1 p.m. EDT Sunday at Ford Field in Detroit. Shepard is expected to miss the game as he remains in the concussion protocol. The veteran wide receiver used some of his time off to volunteer, helping Pampers' effort to install 5,000 changing tables in public bathrooms in North America by 2021.
"I think the future is bright for us," Shepard said of the Giants. "We just have to figure out how to be more consistent. We always get off to a good start, except for last week. I think the first four weeks we opened every game with a touchdown drive. We have to figure out a way to get back to that.
"We have to start fast and finish strong."