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The dangerous artificial turf at MetLife Stadium has claimed another victim. The New York Giants lost their top receiver, Sterling Shepard, to a season-ending ACL injury to his left knee on Monday during a seemingly innocuous play.
It was bad enough that the Giants squandered a second-half lead and lost 23-16 to the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football. It was even worse when Shepard needed to be carted off the field because of an unfortunate injury on the Giants’ dangerous home turf, which has drawn criticism across the league.
Late in the fourth quarter, Shepard suffered a non-contact injury while jogging down the sideline.
Kind of looked like a freaky accident there,” said Giants head coach Brian Daboll after the game.
The Giants were one of the few teams that started the season 2-0, but they failed to remain undefeated after their Week 3 loss against their NFC East division rival. The Giants are now 2-1, with the Chicago Bears (2-1) on the schedule for Week 4. Despite Shepard’s injury, the Giants are still -3 favorites against the visiting Bears.
Struggling Golladay Gets Second Chance
Shepard led the Giants this season with 154 receiving yards. Although he was second on the team with 13 receptions, he also led the Giants with 24 targets from quarterback Daniel Jones. The Giants have scored only four passing touchdowns this season, and Shepard shared the team lead with one touchdown reception.
The Giants selected Shepard with a second-round pick out of Oklahoma in the 2016 NFL Draft. He missed just five games in his first three seasons with the Giants, while scoring 14 touchdowns in 43 games.
Shepard couldn’t shake the injury bug since the start of the 2019 season. In the last three seasons, he missed 21 games because of numerous injuries and a concussion. Last season, Shepard appeared in just seven games because of an Achilles tendon injury.
The Giants would love to rely on wideout Kadarius Toney to fill the void, but the speedster has been hampered with a hamstring injury. Wan’Dale Robinson, a second-round draft pick out of Kentucky, injured his knee in Week 1.
The Giants also have Kenny Golladay on the roster, who has been struggling to crack the rotation. He has caught just two passes for 22 yards this season. He has yet to score a touchdown in 17 games with the Giants, which is a huge disappointment considering he’s the second-highest paid player on the squad, earning $18 million this season.
An unhappy Golladay hinted at a trade after getting benched. Now he has a chance to prove himself against the Bears in Week 4.
MetLife Stadium Turf a Health Hazard?
The Giants and the New York Jets share MetLife Stadium, which is located in the shadows of the old Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands section of New Jersey in the New York City suburbs. The troublesome turf at MetLife Stadium has been a source of scorn and hazard since its inception.
During the 2020 season, the San Francisco 49ers played the Jets at MetLife Stadium and saw five of their players go down with serious lower-body injuries because of the turf. The 49ers lost two defensive starters — Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas — to season-ending knee injuries. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo also sprained his ankle when he got stuck in the turf.
This is not the first injury incident this season because of the janky turf at MetLife Stadium. When the Baltimore Ravens played the Jets in Week 1, cornerback Kyle Fuller blew out his ACL, which was a huge loss to the Ravens’ secondary.
Everybody in this league should do everything they can to put the best surface out there,” said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh in Week 1’s post-game press conference. “How much is invested in the players who go out there and play, and our league really is a player-driven league, and we want those guys to have the best of the best, especially surfaces to play on.”
Players prefer grass because it’s softer and less dangerous than artificial turf. Teams prefer the turf because of the cost, especially in a multi-use facility like MetLife Stadium. Two NFL teams share the field, in addition to college football games throughout the autumn.
“I know there have been a lot of studies,” added Daboll. “Not just here, but probably in every stadium. Look at Shep’s injury, he was jogging. I’m sure throughout the season and the off-season, we’ll sit down and discuss those types of things.”
Ex-Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. is a former teammate of Shepard, and he voiced his frustration on Twitter.
“Billions made off this game I can’t understand why we can’t play on grass,” tweeted Beckham.
MetLife Stadium turf strikes again…It needs to go!!! out to Sterling Shepard. pic.twitter.com/XxVxXEYUvY
— ACL Recovery Club (@ACLrecoveryCLUB) September 27, 2022
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