Bryce Ford-Wheaton’s promising start to the Giants ended with a cruciate ligament rupture


August 27, 2023 | 10:22 p.m

Rookie wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton made an impression as an undrafted free agent with the Giants this summer and was on the way to earning a spot on the practice team.

Ford-Wheaton won’t get that opportunity, however, having survived Saturday night’s 33-24 preseason loss to the Jets at MetLife Stadium with a cruciate ligament tear and will spend the entire 2023 season on injured reserve.

Ford-Wheaton only played four snaps in the game, all on special teams.

His value at first was mostly on special teams, a skill few of the other wide receivers showed at camp.

The Giants began reducing their roster from 90 to the 53-man mark on Sunday, eliminating 11 players from the roster.

In addition to Ford-Wheaton’s addition to the IR, five players were released: WR Collin Johnson, RB James Robinson, DT Kevin Atkins, NT Donovan Jeter and DB Darren Evans.

Bryce Ford-Wheaton’s season is over after a cruciate ligament tear. Bill Kostroun for the NY Post

Five active veterans have had their contracts terminated: T Korey Cunningham, T Julien Davenport, WR Jaydon Mickens, DE Tashawn Bower and DT Brandin Bryant.

The Giants have 79 players and need to get down to 53 by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Johnson caught 11 passes for 105 yards in 2021 and was on his way to the team last summer before suffering a torn Achilles tendon.

There was too much competition for the wide receiver position for Johnson to survive this year.

“I thought so [releasing Johnson] “It would be a good opportunity for him to possibly gain a foothold in the next team if he’s doing well,” said coach Brian Daboll. “A guy that works hard, but we had a few other guys that we’re going to keep.”

Bryce Ford-Wheaton participates in practice August 24 during Giants practice. Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

Daboll and his coaching staff set out the workload for the players they wanted to evaluate this summer and, together with the medical staff and training staff, set specific benchmarks to be achieved in the pre-season games.

Because of this, rookie cornerbacks Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins and another rookie, center John Michael Schmitz, did not take the field on Saturday.

Daboll wanted these freshmen to grab 60 snaps preseason, and all three hit that total in their first two games.

Veteran receiver Sterling Shepard, returning from surgery to repair a torn cruciate ligament, did not yet have the requisite snaps the coaching staff wanted of him.

That’s why Shepard started against the Jets. He ran a few routes, was targeted once, didn’t catch a pass and was off the field after eight snaps.

All of this is closely scrutinized.

Shepard, 30, has never returned a punt in his seven-year stint with the Giants.

Daboll wanted him to start a punt at least once this summer, which is why Shepard was back in the first quarter when the Jets fielded their punt team. Shepherd was instructed to call for a fair catch.

“Everything we asked him to do and we had a rehab plan that I know I discussed for him,” Daboll said of Shepard. “He has done a good job so far and achieved all the goals we set for him. Happy with where he is, the coaches have done a really good job with him and he himself has done a good job as a player by being ready and I would say he has performed well every time he has had the opportunity had to go there on the practice site or in the game, being diligent and knowing what to do. He seems pretty good in terms of his speed and his blast he came back after a couple of years with injuries so I’m happy with his position.”

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Matthew Collins

Sports storyteller. Capturing the triumphs and tribulations of athletes, inspiring readers worldwide.

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