Jason Pierre-Paul didn't mince words on Wednesday when he spoke with the media about his possible return to the field this Sunday. Earlier in the day, head coach Tom Coughlin indicated that the former USF standout could return this week if the defensive end felt that he was ready to play.
With his injured hand wrapped and protected by a special glove following practice, Pierre-Paul appeared optimistic and driven to make his long awaited season debut in Week 9. While he's chomping at the bit to reunite with his teammates, Pierre-Paul understands that he'll have to consult with team doctors before going full tilt against Tampa Bay.
"I’m starting off slow, I’m a little bit rusty—that’s going to happen, no training camp, no nothing," noted Pierre-Paul. "But when I’m out there, I’m giving it my all. I have no, “I could work on this tomorrow,” that’s not my mindset no more. It’s either now or never."
Not only has Pierre-Paul overcome multiple surgeries and skin grafts on his hand, but he's had to endure the hardships of nonstop media scrutiny and criticism. While the Giants star-pass rusher's injury was a product of his own negligence, he didn't once doubt throughout the whole rehab and recovery process that he could still be the same type of player.
I know for a fact that I’m still the same JPP--getting to the ball, screen pass, running and chasing down, getting to the quarterback, playing the run. It’s just that confidence I’ve got to get back, “Hey, my hand is okay.”
With two more days of practice ahead of him before the team departs for Tampa Bay, Pierre-Paul will be pushing his limits in practice to see how his hand responds to the physicality of the NFL.
Exactly four months since the fateful accident on July 4th, Pierre-Paul admitted that when he does come back to the gridiron, it will be a wild and emotional scene that has been a long time coming.
"I already know it’s going to be crazy," said Pierre-Paul of his anticipated reception from fans. "They’ve been waiting on me, I’m here, I’ve arrived. They say I can’t, but I did. It’s on me."