The New York Giants are going to make the Dallas Cowboys keep guessing about Jason Pierre-Paul’s playing status for the season opener.
The Giants on Friday listed the playing-making defensive end as questionable for Sunday night’s game in Dallas, saying they needed a little more time to decide his status.
Pierre-Paul had said earlier in the week that he would know by Friday whether his surgically repaired lower back would be sound enough for him to play.
If he did, he and coach Tom Coughlin were keeping it a secret.
”I am going to make the trip,” Pierre-Paul said after practice. ”It will be a game-time decision by the training staff and the coach, and that will be basically it.”
The deciding factor may be how Pierre-Paul feels after Saturday’s three-hour flight from New Jersey to Dallas. He has not flown since returning from California following the surgery in June to repair a disk in his lower back.
”I am not going to put my team in jeopardy if I know I can’t play well,” said Pierre-Paul, who saw his sack output drop from 16 1/2 to 6 1/2 last season because of back pain last season.
Pierre-Paul started training camp on the physically unable to perform list and he didn’t start practicing until Aug. 26. He has not missed any workouts since returning, but he also did not appear in any preseason games.
Stamina is still an issue for him and he has not faced full-speed blocking or double teams, which the Cowboys will certainly throw at him.
”It’s only three days of practice,” Pierre-Paul said of preparations this week. ”It’s not like a real game situation. I am facing my players and we are going against Dallas this week. It’s different when you are playing against your teammates. You know when to lay off on them. It’s different than going against another player.
The one concession that Pierre-Paul made was saying that ”maybe” he would play if he didn’t have a setback before the game. Either way, he’s feeling better and his back is strong.
”If somebody can’t go, somebody has to step up,” Pierre-Paul said. ”If I can’t go, the next person in line has to step up. That’s why we have a team. It’s not just one person.
Mathias Kiwanuka would start at right end with Justin Tuck on the left side, if Pierre-Paul doesn’t play.
Pierre-Paul has had big games against the Cowboys in Dallas. He returned an interception for a touchdown in last year’s 29-24 win. The year before, he blocked a game-tying field goal on the final play, had two sacks, with one resulting in a safety, and forced a fumble that led to a field goal in a 37-34 win.
”He’ll be out there,” Dallas quarterback Tony Romo predicted earlier this week. ”I think more than anything, we’re already having to plan for him, and we’ve already got that part of it done. Obviously he’s a great player, so you’ve got to account for him so we’re going to have to do that and we will.”
Coughlin is content playing the waiting game.
”We’ll just take all of the information, based on the three days of work, listen to the medical people again, and then make that decision,” Coughlin said, joking that he is bringing Pierre-Paul on the trip so he can talk to him instead of calling him all the time.
NOTES: Center David Baas (knee) was ruled out for the game along with G David Diehl (hand) and TE Adrien Robinson (foot). Rookie DE Damontre Moore (shoulder) and fullback Henry Hynoski (knee) are in the questionable category along with Pierre-Paul. … WR Victor Cruz, who missed the last two preseason games with a foot injury, and CB Jayron Hosley (ankle) are probable. … With Baas out, LG Kevin Boothe will play center and third-year OL James Brewer will start at left guard. Brewer and rookie right tackle Justin Pugh will be making their first NFL starts. … The Giants lost to Dallas, 24-17, in the opener last year.