Darrius Shepherd Eyes Another Shot

Wide receiver Darrius Shepherd was a long shot to make the team last year. However, the undrafted free agent made the final 53-man roster and proved once again how important a strong training camp can be for an undrafted prospect. Fast forward a year later, and the North Dakota State product might be making a run at a roster spot once again.

On Sunday, head coach Matt Lafleur spoke to media following an intrasquad scrimmage and offered some positive reinforcement on what he’s seen from Shepherd in year two.

“Shep’s done an outstanding job,” said LaFleur. “I think he’s showed up, consistently separating, and has caught the ball pretty well for the most part.”

Shepherd stated that he has benefited from his experience this summer after having a year under his belt in LaFleur's offense. 

In 2019, Shepherd was new to the scheme, but he was a standout during the preseason and earned the trust of both his coaches and teammates. In four preseason matchups, he recorded 68 receiving yards on eight receptions, two of which went for touchdowns. Shepherd also put forth a strong showing as the team’s primary kick returner, averaging 22 yards on five attempts with a long of 36. Surprisingly, the Packers kept both Shepherd and a similar player in Trevor Davis. Green Bay then opted for keeping Shepherd over Davis when they dealt Davis to the Oakland Raiders for a 2020 sixth-round pick.

Shepherd saw very few snaps at the start of last season, but when he finally got his chance in a week six matchup against the Detroit Lions, the moment was too big for the UDFA.

During the second half, Shepherd fumbled a punt that was recovered by Detroit and led to a field goal. Then, at the start of the fourth quarter, the Packers were driving deep into Lions territory. Aaron Rodgers looked for Shepherd on the two-yard line, however, Shepherd failed to see the ball as it bounced off his facemask. Detroit intercepted the pass and returned it 55 yards. Ultimately, Green Bay escaped with a narrow victory over the Lions, but two huge mistakes by Shepherd were almost fatal.

Shepherd did not field another punt or see another target up until the Packers released him on October 29th. He was later resigned to the team’s practice squad and remained there for the rest of the season. Shepherd persevered. He used that haunting week six game as a learning experience and never let those misfortunes deter his NFL journey.

“After that Detroit game, I faced a lot of adversity personally and just had to overcome it,” he told the media following Sunday’s scrimmage.

Shepherd spent this past offseason catching passes from former NDSU teammate Easton Stick who is now with the Los Angeles Chargers. According to Shepherd, he looked to improve in all areas as both a receiver and returner.

While he may not have the preseason to show that he is refocused, Sheperd made two notable plays on Sunday in what will be the closest thing he gets to game action in August. First, quarterback Tim Boyle found Shepherd downfield for a 21-yard touchdown on third-and-five.  A few plays later, rookie quarterback Jordan Love connected with Shepherd for a big gain on third-and-11.

A continuation of plays like the ones he made Sunday will certainly help his chances, but Shepherd is already following a similar trajectory to the one he benefited from last season. He’s battling Reggie Begelton, Jake Kumerow, Malik Taylor, and Malik Turner for one of the last remaining receiver spots and appears to have a slight edge.

If Shepherd does survive the final cut, it would be a remarkable comeback story.

 

 

Brandon Carwile is a Packers writer who also enjoys watching and breaking down film. Follow him on Twitter @PackerScribe.

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Comments (18)

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TimBackes's picture

September 02, 2020 at 12:34 pm

Tough for me to see Shepherd getting on the team. As with 2019 his best bet is special teams, but now the Packers have Tyler Ervin basically locked into the return spot. Only other shot he has is beating out Kumerow for the 5th slot, and I don't see it happening.

Probably a practice squad player if he doesn't get picked up by someone else.

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Bure9620's picture

September 03, 2020 at 05:50 am

I hope not.......Shepperd seems to be a bit of a practice hero....he has been given a fairer shake than most....remember Lazard being cut...... that pass which hit shepperd in the face could have easily cost Green Bay the game..........Lazards catch saved the game....

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Lare's picture

September 02, 2020 at 01:14 pm

"Sheperd made two notable plays on Sunday in what will be the closest think he gets to game action in August."

Probably a typo, but then again maybe not?

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BrandonCarwile's picture

September 02, 2020 at 04:27 pm

Good catch. Thanks

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BrandonCarwile's picture

September 02, 2020 at 04:27 pm

Good catch. Thanks

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stockholder's picture

September 02, 2020 at 01:50 pm

I think LeFluer needs to look elsewhere. Shepard just doesn't pass that eye ball test. I believe the ball will come out in any clutch situation. I just don't want to count on a small WR that shows No size , No power, No strength.

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Bure9620's picture

September 03, 2020 at 03:15 am

Agreed, what I can't figure out also is the Packers like large WR anyway......I don't see the infatuation with Shepperd, he would clear waivers easily...

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nostradanus's picture

September 02, 2020 at 02:17 pm

I like Shep. It’s also good to have another guy who can return punts & kicks.

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Lphill's picture

September 02, 2020 at 05:18 pm

You like everything I’m starting to think you work for the Packers.

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13TimeChamps's picture

September 02, 2020 at 05:48 pm

Somebody has to balance out the Negative Nellies.

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dobber's picture

September 03, 2020 at 05:05 am

You clearly haven't paid attention to 'danus over the years...

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ShanghaiKid's picture

September 02, 2020 at 02:34 pm

Don’t want to see Shep on the final roster or practice squad. Ross and Jacob say he works hard in practice and has a great attitude. I respect that. However, what immediately comes to mind is a fielded punt with arms extended and behind him without signaling a fair catch leading to a fumble, and a pass that hit him directly in the face leading to an INT. Just don’t trust the guy in any facet of his game.

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blacke00's picture

September 02, 2020 at 07:09 pm

The "Booted" punt was his fault. The interception was Rodgers (he threw behind him that's the way I saw it).
The Packers still needs "slot" receiver and he fits the bill. But he'll probably end up on the PS.

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Bure9620's picture

September 03, 2020 at 03:16 am

The Packers do not have a type for slot receiver......The Packers have drafted only one WR under 6'1" since 1995......Randall Cobb....and Cobb fell in the draft......they do not have a bill to fit

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dobber's picture

September 03, 2020 at 07:38 am

I get your point in that Gute certainly has been a HW guy in his couple years, but...
Donald Driver 6'0"
Ty Montgomer 6'0"
Greg Jennings 6'0"
Carl Ford 6'0"
Corey Bradford 6'0"
Derrick Mayes 6'0"

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/gnb/draft.htm

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ShanghaiKid's picture

September 03, 2020 at 09:38 am

I don’t disagree with your premise on that dobber, but would like to point out that none of those guys were BG’s.

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McFly's picture

September 03, 2020 at 03:44 pm

BG is a TT disciple though, who was a Wolf disciple... so he follows the Ron Wolf position requirements that have been around since '91... which is why all of those players that dobber listed are relevant.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 03, 2020 at 08:07 pm

Adversity means misfortune, and generally not of one's own making. Shepherd's misfortune was an opportunity that he failed to grasp. At 5'11" and 186 pounds, his 4.57 forty, 35.5 vertical and 7.13 3-cone are pedestrian. Maybe he has a great 10-yard dash, but that's all I've found.

What did set him apart was tremendous productivity at North Dakota State (#2 ranked in the nation by PFF). I'd be surprised if the game is too big for him. He had a good TC again. Coaches call really.

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