The Giants got some good news right before Labor Day Weekend, as Jason Pierre-Paul’s agent told the team that the fearsome defensive end plans to report to New York’s training facility sometime this week. That’s exciting for fans who have been waiting to see Pierre-Paul put a uniform on and show that the guy who brutally injured his hand in a July 4 fireworks accident is the same guy who led the Big Blue defense with 12.5 sacks last year.
The bad part of the deal is that Pierre-Paul hasn’t yet been examined by Giants doctors and will only have one week to prepare if he plans on playing in the regular season opener in Dallas on September 13.
Since Pierre-Paul has almost completely avoided contact with the Giants since he injured his hand, the team has had to prepare as if it will be without him for the entire season. After all, Pierre-Paul is still not under contract because he has yet to sign his $14.8 million franchise tender that the Giants offered him in the offseason. The idea is that Pierre-Paul fears that if he signed the contract, the Giants could put him on the non-football injury list and dock his pay for the time that he misses.
By not signing the contract, Pierre-Paul maintains control of the situation, but only if he is physically able to perform this autumn.
After his terrific 2014 campaign, the Giants were looking forward to Pierre-Paul being one of the leaders of the defense this year. With a young secondary and questionable depth at defensive end, New York needed Pierre-Paul’s skill and experience to stabilize a unit that was decimated by injury last season. Since the July 4 incident, the team has had to rely on veterans like Robert Ayers and George Selvie as well as young, unproven guys like Damontre Moore and Owa Odighizuwa at defensive end.
Of those four, only Ayers is listed as a starter on New York’s most recent depth chart. The second starting defensive end is listed as Cullen Jenkins, who started at defensive tackle for the past two seasons. However, if Pierre-Paul is healthy enough to play and has kept up on his conditioning, he shouldn’t have trouble make the leap into the starting lineup.