Jason Pierre-Paul spoke to the media on Monday about the first day spring workouts, and his progress thus far throughout the offseason. Pierre-Paul is expected to be a team leader this year. While Pierre-Paul was a free agent, he received offers from other teams, most notably the Arizona Cardinals, but turned down the offers in an effort to return to the Giants and “complete unfinished business”.
After suffering a very serious hand injury last offseason, Pierre-Paul was unable to play until week 9 of the 2015 season. He immediately added to the pass-rush, but wasn’t the same player he once was. Following the end of the season, Pierre-Paul had additional hand surgery, which is said to give his hand more mobility. When Pierre-Paul was asked how his current physical shape compares to last season, Pierre-Paul had a very positive vibe in his response.
“I think I’m in the best shape ever. I lost a couple of pounds. I’m lean and getting off the ball. I’m running and lifting weights, so I feel I’m in the best shape ever. I had eight games last year and I’m shooting for 16 this year.”
Although Pierre-Paul refused to announce how much weight he has lost, he made it clear he is in the best shape of his career. Pierre-Paul’s ultimate goal is to play a full-season in 2016.
Pierre-Paul had himself a very busy free agency period, not only convincing Olivier Vernon to join the Giants, but also re-signing with the Giants himself. Pierre-Paul is looked up to in the locker room, and he seemed happy to see most of the team in attendance on Monday.
“I just say ‘Do what you can. You never know when your time is up.’ I missed the whole offseason last year, unfortunately. I was still working out. It would have been better for me if I were here, with getting to know the system, etc. It’s very important. I’m glad I’m here this year.”
Pierre-Paul had a very tough time returning last year, as he was playing under a new defensive coordinator, and hadn’t had a chance to learn the playbook. Pierre-Paul stressed that it is important to take control of the opportunities you are given, in this case, being with the team and participating in OTAs.
Ben McAdoo replaced long-time head coach Tom Coughlin this offseason. Among many changed to Monday’s workouts, the most noticeable change was the energy. The music was loud, and the players were out on the field going at a fast pace.
“I think everyone was moving quickly and things were at a fast pace. We had some resting periods, but it was more of a ‘quick-and-go right now’ pace. That’s very important. We didn’t have that break that we used to have and we felt pretty good after we left the field.”
Pierre-Paul was in favor of the changes made this offseason regarding OTAs. Although the head coaching change was emotional for many players, in particular ones like Pierre-Paul who had been with Coughlin for many years, it seems like the changes that McAdoo has made thus far have been positive, such as a new weight room and the change of energy at OTAs.
It is without a doubt that the Giants key issue last season was the defense. McAdoo has started with the basics in an effort to elevate the Giants defense for this season. Pierre-Paul was asked about some of the drills the defense participated in.
“There is a big emphasis on [tackling, blocking and taking care of the ball]. When the ball is on the ground – [McAdoo] made an emphasis on getting the ball right away, no matter what side of the ball you’re on. We did it all. It’s a good thing.”
Overall, Pierre-Paul’s comments seemed positive. It is the beginning of the offseason, so the team is taking thing slowly. As the offseason progresses, contact will start to take place as well as more sophisticated drills. If every player can be as focused and have as good of an attitude as Pierre-Paul, the Giants can count on a much better season this year.