Newly svelte defensive end is on the mend from last year’s extensive surgery.
If Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was worried at any point about his immediate future, he never let on.
Of course, who could have blamed him if he was. Not only was he dealing with what turned out to be a season-ending core muscle injury for which he revealed his surgery addressed four different issues in his abdomen and in his groins, he was also set to hit the open market, that is, until the Giants applied the franchise tag on him.
But Pierre-Paul, who has faced bigger adversity before, namely the loss of two and a half fingers during a July 2015 fireworks accident, took it all in stride and is now looking forward to getting down to the business of helping the Giants win their fifth championship.
“I feel good. I’m walking and I’m running. I’m here at OTA’s participating in every activity that they have. I’m OK,” he said Thursday during the players’ meeting with reporters.
“I wasn’t worried about (the contract). My play took care of itself and we finally got something done. Now, I just worry about football.”
The team’s first-round pick in 2010, Pierre-Paul is now among the longest-tenured players in the team, a fact he found amusing, but one that he also is taking seriously in knowing that his younger teammates are looking up to him.
“I’ve been here eight years, man. I’m a vet. I know the game and know how to play the game. Teach the young cats. It was the same way when I came in and I was looking at (Justin) Tuck,” he said.
“I have to teach the young cats, the rookies that are coming in and the other rookies from last year. Make sure they play, help the team get better and help the team win another Super Bowl.”
Pierre-Paul, who initially tipped the scale at 290 in his rookie season, said he trimmed 10 pounds off his 2016 playing weight to get down to his current 265-pound figure.
This time around, Pierre-Paul, who won a Super Bowl championship in 2011, his second season, would like to be there to not only help the 2017 team get to the playoffs but to also help them advance.
“I was just upset with myself,” he said in having to miss the Giants first playoff run since that 2011 season. “You can’t predict injuries. That’s one thing you can’t do. I felt that I would’ve helped tremendously out there, but I couldn’t be out there to help my team.”
Now that he’s back and doesn’t have to worry about playing on a year-to-year contract as he did the past two seasons, Pierre-Paul, who may be limited to start the spring, believes the future is very bright for the team.
“I think if we put in the work, be consistent, do what the coaches tell us, we have a very good chance of getting there again and actually getting to the Super Bowl. That’s the goal,” he said.
“Everyone starts OTA’s thinking that we’re here to put the trophy in the case. That’s what we start to do right now. I think if we do what coach asks and we’re consistent, we’ll get there.”
It also helps, he said, that the front office was able to retain most of the key members of the defense who now whave a year under their respective belts and a foundation on which to build.
“We’re here to just get chemistry. That’s what we have OTA’s for and training camp. Guys have to know how guys play with each other. Every year you come in there’s something different that you have to work on. There’s something different that I have to work on. That’s why we’re here. To get good chemistry with each other. We know how each other rush. You bond with your teammates. We’ll get there.”