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Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Pierre-Paul excited to be a starter ... for now

By Kieran Darcy

The most talked-about defensive end so far in Giants training camp has been Osi Umenyiora -- who has yet to participate in a practice.

On the flip side, there hasn't been enough talk about the player currently replacing Umenyiora on the right end of the Giants' starting D-line: Jason Pierre-Paul.

The second-year player from South Florida continues to open eyes in his second NFL training camp.

"He just seems to have a kind of a swagger about him, as far as going on the football field, knowing what’s expected of him, and going and doing it," said fellow defensive end Justin Tuck, the Giants' defensive captain. "This early in the season, you can kinda get the feel that he knows what he’s doing a little better. More confident having that year under his belt."

Pierre-Paul, the Giants' first-round draft pick (15th overall) in 2010, did not start playing football until his senior year of high school, and played only one season of Division I football, at South Florida. But he showed flashes of future stardom as a rookie last season with 4.5 sacks. And he said on Wednesday that he feels much more comfortable starting his second NFL season.

"I'm playing faster," Pierre-Paul said. "I know all the plays, know the play-calling -- everything's just faster."

"Don't get me wrong, I'm still a little bit twitchy in some areas," Pierre-Paul added. "But if I do (get twitchy), I go to Tuck or Osi (Umenyiora) or (Mathias) Kiwanuka ... and they just tell me what to do."

With Umenyiora still sitting out, because of unhappiness with his contract and a possible knee injury, Pierre-Paul has been filling his spot on the first string -- and enjoying the opportunity. "It gives me the chance to go out here and prove to the coaches what I can do," Pierre-Paul said.

But if and when Umenyiora comes back, Pierre-Paul knows he'll likely lose that starting job. He doesn't sound too worried about that, though. "It doesn't really matter to me," Pierre-Paul said. "As long as I get on the field and do what I do, I'm all right."

"I'm still learning the game," he added. "I'm not in my full potential right now."

Whenever he gets there, watch out.