EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is back with the New York Giants more than three months after losing a finger in a July 4 fireworks accident.
Wearing white gloves on his hands, the 26-year-old Pierre-Paul did calisthenics with the team Wednesday and then worked with members of the medical staff while the rest of the Giants went through drills with their units.
The main question is how long is it going to take Pierre-Paul to be ready to play? His right index finger was amputated, his thumb was injured and his hand sustained burns in the accident.
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After the warmup, Pierre-Paul ran some sprints, stretched, talked to equipment manager Joe Skiba, and pushed a sled roughly 10 yards at a pop, all at the far corner of the team’s indoor facility on a rainy day.
”How long that lasts is really according to how well he is able to proceed,” coach Tom Coughlin said. ”He has told me he has worked against bags and he’s delivered blows on a board and done all of those things.”
The Giants said Pierre-Paul would not be available for comment until Thursday or Friday.
Fellow defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins said that Pierre-Paul looks as fast as ever, and he believes he is ready for the challenge of getting back on the field.
”Just because he’s back here, his road getting back hasn’t stopped,” Jenkins said. ”He’s still focused on getting through that road.”
Linebacker Mark Herzlich also believes that Pierre-Paul will adapt to playing with his injured right hand.
”I have never been curious to see how JPP plays. I am more excited to see the amazing things he can do,” Herzlich said.
All defensive end coach Robert Ayers Jr. had to do was to look at Pierre Paul to know he is ready.
”I see it in his eyes,” Ayers said. ”I see hunger in his eyes.”
Cornerback Prince Amukamara said some of Pierre-Paul’s tweets after his injury indicated his perspective on life may have changed.
”He still seems the same focused JPP, but there wasn’t a lot of initial joking. He is very charismatic and it wasn’t like that initially. He is just trying to get his feet wet a little bit or maybe that’s how he is now. Maybe it’s a new JPP. I guess we’ll see.”
Coughlin said Pierre-Paul looked good. His weight of 268 was on the money. He said the 2010 first-round draft pick was eager to get back to work after missing all of training camp and the first seven games of the season, an absence that cost Pierre-Paul more than $6 million in salary.
The Giants designated Pierre-Paul as their franchise player after last season and tendered him an offer that would have paid him $14.8 million. He didn’t sign it, hoping for a long-term deal. The fireworks mishap changed everything.
Pierre-Paul signed a one-year deal Tuesday that has a much lower weekly salary than the $871,000 he was scheduled to make as the franchise player.
There are incentives in the new deal, but first Pierre-Paul has to get back on the field, and that means showing the medical staff he is ready to go.
”We’ll just see how fast this comes along,” Coughlin said, adding his return was a boost for the NFC East-leading Giants (4-3).
Coughlin said the Giants have no intention at this point of having Pierre-Paul play against the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday. However, he is considering having the six-year veteran make the trip to get him around a competitive environment.
Pierre-Paul was examined by team doctors Monday and given the OK to play. He made significant progress with his healing since being last examined by the team around Labor Day, Coughlin said.
”We are all rooting for him,” Coughlin said. ”He has done an outstanding job of preparing himself. He is mentally very upbeat. His attitude is outstanding. He is anxious to play right now, to be honest with you, but we are going to go relatively slow on that now.”
Coughlin hopes Pierre-Paul can return to being a dominant lineman. He led the team with 12 1/2 sacks last season and was almost as good against the run.
How Pierre-Paul does playing with a missing finger and injured hand remains to be seen.
”If you have studied him and watched how he maneuvers rushing the passer, then he will use that hand basically as he always has,” Coughlin said. ”Not necessarily as a grabber, but a club.”
Coughlin said Pierre-Paul has studied the defense installed by new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, and needs to catch up on some terminology.
”He senses that it’s close and that whatever we ask him to do, he can do it,” Coughlin said.
Coughlin also knows how to judge Pierre-Paul’s performances: by watching how many times he knocks down the opposing quarterback.
NOTES: WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) practiced fully on Wednesday, the first time since being injured against San Francisco on Oct. 11. … MLB Uani `Unga, who was inactive Sunday because of a labrum problem, practiced on a limited basis. … LB J.T. Thomas did not practice and had a walking boot on his injured ankle. …
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