EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The extra space wide receiver Sterling Shepard had around his dressing area for the past month in the New York Giants' locker room disappeared early Monday morning.
A couple of minutes after 8 a.m., veteran wideout Golden Tate III walked into the room for the first time since starting a four-game suspension for using performance-enhancers in the offseason.
Tate had tweeted about showing up at a minute past midnight, but his wife convinced him to spend the night at home.
With Shepard talking to the media during its availability with the players, Tate wandered into the scrum and announced: "I'm back."
It's actually good news for the Giants (2-2), who have won two straight and will face a tough test at MetLife Stadium on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings (2-2).
Tate can't wait, admitting it was frustrating not being able to play.
"I was kind of going through it a little bit, especially the first two games," the 10-year veteran sad. "I guess as each game passed it got a little bit easier because I knew I was closer to coming back. I've just been itching, been missing football and now the time is finally here."
Things have changed in his time away. He left with Eli Manning running the offense. He returns with rookie Daniel Jones starting and playing well. He heard about the change online.
"I wouldn't say I was surprised, I'm delighted," Tate said of Jones' play. "I'm liking what I'm seeing for sure. He's been handling the moment very well and hopefully he continues to improve each day and each game."
Tate laughed when asked if he took a vacation on his time away. He said he was home in San Diego and worked his tail off, trying to be ready and to keep his mind off things.
"Sundays were tough for me, I was in a bad mood on Sunday just because from the start of the day I couldn't find the game (on television)," he said. "Because I'm on the West Coast, they weren't showing the game. I had to find it somewhere streaming, it started off and then I'm just sitting looking like, I should be out there. It was tough, but yesterday was kind of the first pleasant game for me. One, we won and I knew as soon as the game was over I was pretty much allowed to be back."
Tate was suspended for taking a drug prescribed by a physician. It was meant to help his family with a fertility issue.
The 31-year-old signed a four-year, $37 million contract with the Giants in the offseason. Tate lost more than $1 million in salary while suspended.