You cannot argue with Hunter Sharp’s logic.
“It’s hard to make the team as a receiver when you don’t catch the ball,’’ he said. “[Pat] Shurmur’s real big on that.’’
Yes, Shurmur has this thing about his receivers being able to hold onto the ball. Sharp, a 23-year-old speedster looking to find a place on the Giants’ roster, has not done a very good job of that. His flashes in practice are intriguing, and on Friday night, he scored the only touchdown for his team on a gaudy 55-yard punt return, exhibiting his high-end velocity and also a surprisingly lethal stiff-arm to shrug off Jets linebacker Neville Hewitt before sprinting into the end zone in a 22-16 preseason victory.
The punt return is a huge positive checkmark on Sharp’s ledger. The two dropped passes on offense, one on a moderately difficult over-the-shoulder attempt on the left sideline, the second a routine slant that should have easily picked up a first down, go down on the negative side of Sharp’s game evaluation.
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“For me, I have to put it all together in one game,’’ Sharp said. “One game it’s a good game at receiver and not my best game at punt return, or I have a big game at punt return, not my best game at receiver. Got to find a way to put it all together.’’
Undrafted out of Utah State, the 6-foot, 199-pound Sharp spent time with the Eagles and was a member of the Broncos’ and Giants’ practice squads. He appeared in three NFL games in 2017, one for the Broncos and two for the Giants.
Sharp said he planned to catch more than 200 passes Saturday, an off-day for the Giants. After practicing this week, he gets one more preseason game, Thursday night versus the Patriots, to put it all together.
“I hope it comes my way a lot,’’ Sharp said. “I hope there’s a bad pass, honestly, so I can make a QB look good. I definitely am looking forward to this week, showing I can do everything that the coaches ask.’’
It is conceivable, but not likely, the Giants see Sharp as such a gifted return man that they keep him around, even if he is not in the plans as a receiver.
“We could carry a returner, certainly,’’ Shurmur said, “if he’s dynamic enough where he can change the game by being a returner.’’
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