Bryce Ford-Wheaton’s promising Giants start ended by torn ACL

Rookie wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton made an impression with the Giants this summer as an undrafted free agent and was on his way to finding a place on the practice squad.

Ford-Wheaton will not get that opportunity, though, as he came out of Saturday night’s 33-24 preseason loss to the Jets at MetLife Stadium with a torn ACL and will spend the entire 2023 season on injured reserve. 

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

His value, initially, was mostly on special teams, a skill set few of the other wide receivers displayed in training camp. 

The Giants on Sunday began the process of trimming their roster from 90 to the 53-man limit, removing 11 players from the roster.

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

Bryce Ford-Wheaton
Bryce Ford-Wheaton’s season is over after suffering a torn ACL.
Bill Kostroun for the NY Post

The contracts of five vested veterans were terminated: T Korey Cunningham, T Julien Davenport, WR Jaydon Mickens, DE Tashawn Bower and DT Brandin Bryant.

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

Johnson caught 11 passes for 105 yards in 2021 and was on his way to making the team last summer before he tore his Achilles tendon.

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

“I figured it [releasing Johnson] would be a good opportunity for him to get a jump-start on potentially the next team, doing him the right way,” coach Brian Daboll said. “A guy that’s a hard worker, just we had some other guys that we’re going to keep.” 

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

Daboll and his coaching staff decided on the workload for the players they wanted to evaluate this summer, and, along with the medical and training staffs, established specific benchmarks to be hit in the preseason games. 

This is why rookie cornerbacks Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins and another rookie, center John Michael Schmitz, did not take the field Saturday.

Daboll wanted to see those newcomers log 60 snaps in the preseason and all three reached that total in the first two games. 

Veteran receiver Sterling Shepard, who is coming back from surgery to repair a torn ACL, did not yet have the required snaps the coaching staff wanted to see from him.

That is why Shepard started against the Jets. He ran a few routes, was targeted one time, did not catch a pass and was off the field after eight snaps. 

All this is highly scrutinized.

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

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

“Everything that we’ve asked him to do, and we’ve had a rehab plan I know that I’ve talked about for him,’’ Daboll said of Shepard. “He’s done a nice job of kind of hitting each marker that we’ve set for him up to this point. Pleased with where he’s at, trainers have done a really good job with him and he’s done a good job himself, as a player, of being ready to go and I’d say performing well each time he’s had an opportunity to go out there on the practice field or in the game of being conscientious and knowing what to do. He’s looked pretty good in terms of his quickness and his explosion coming back after a couple years of injuries, so I’m pleased with where he’s at.’’