The Giants are starting to feel it.
Despite a roster filled with holes, New York is in first place in the moribund NFC East as injury troubles have derailed Dallas, hubris has tackled Philadelphia, and the now-trademarked dysfunction continues to hamper Washington.
So, if you are talking about the postseason, why not the Giants?
Well, one reason is the pass rush, which has been among the NFL’s worst after the Fourth of July fireworks accident that not only cost Jason Pierre-Paul a finger but also a long-term, big-money contract agreement.
Seven games into the 2015 season, however, JPP is finally back with the Giants after signing an incentive-laden deal on Tuesday night.
“I’m very excited to be back,” Pierre-Paul said in a statement released by the team. “I’m getting ready to do what I have to do. I’ve been training down in South Florida with my trainer. Every day, I got up at 7:30 and lifted weights. I’ve been doing what I have to do to stay in football shape.”
JPP also addressed his return on Instagram:
What a humbling experience this has been for me! I’d like to take the time out to thank God FIRST for giving me a second opportunity to play football. I’d also like to thank the Giants organization for believing in me to play for them again and to be alongside my brothers during the 2015 Season. Also, want to thank my Fiancé, Son, Family , Friends, Eugene Parker, Danny Martoe, Realitivity sports, Dr. Owens, Dr. Askari, Dr. Potparic, Debbie (hand therapist), Mike Alessi, Impact sports facility and staff, Coach John Blake, Pastor O’brien,Fans and everyone who was keeping me in their prayers and believed in me! God is good all the time! Have faith , patience and prayer with you always! Let’s go Big Blue! #90PowerCircle #ImBack
There are still some hurdles the rangy defensive end must clear, however, before he gets back on the field with a Week 10 matchup against New England targeted as a potential return date.
That, however, is probably a bit optimistic and the Giants have received a two-week roster exemption for Pierre-Paul with the New York Daily News reporting that team sources believe a Nov. 29 game against the Redskins after the team’s bye and two weeks clear of that matchup against the Pats is the more likely scenario.
From the Giants’ perspective, this is nothing more than a mini-tryout. Far more money for JPP than this was already budgeted for 2015 anyway and the Big Blue pass rush has been a disaster without him, generating just nine sacks over two months of football.
Struggling up front is never the goal of any NFL team, but it’s especially surprising in a place like New York where stout and productive defensive lines defined Tom Coughlin’s two Super Bowl teams. Pierre-Paul himself had 16 1/2 sacks in the 2011 season which ended with New York’s victory over New England n Super Bowl XLVI.
“It is just good to have Jason back in our building,” Coughlin said. “You can feel his energy and his desire to overcome what he has had to endure since July. His spirit is undeniable, and he is anxious to get to work with (defensive line coach) Robert Nunn and Spags (defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo), as well as our medical and strength and conditioning people.”
That wasn’t always the case.
Pierre-Paul kept the Giants from seeing the severity of his injuries as long as he possibly could, finally succumbing to a meeting in early September where ESPN New York’s Dan Graziano reported that the Giants found that Pierre-Paul is not only missing his entire right index finger, but he is also missing part of his right thumb as a result of his accident.
The odds of this working are still very long but at least the Giants have JPP under their own roof, which means they can monitor his rehab and conditioning to get a better feel of where he really is.
So, now at least, all the resentment is forgotten.
“We all are excited to see Jason,” general manager Jerry Reese said. “He has worked very hard to get himself back into position to join the team and work toward getting on the playing field on Sundays.”
— John McMullen is a national football columnist for TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @jfmcmullen — Also catch John this season on ESPN Southwest Florida every Monday at 3 PM ET; on ESPN Lexington every Thursday at 6:05 ET, and live every Tuesday from 2 to 6 PM ET at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City for the NFL Wraparound on ESPN South Jersey.
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