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Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Pierre-Paul: Very far from his potential

By Matt Ehalt

Jason Pierre-Paul had a game some defensive ends could only dream of Sunday night.

He blocked a field goal that preserved a Giants win. He recorded a safety. He had two sacks, giving him 12.5 on the season. And, to top it all off, he led the Giants with eight tackles in their 37-34 win over Dallas.

Yet, to the second-year defensive end, he's still "very far" from his potential.

"I got more potential in this game still," Pierre-Paul said. "Doing what I did Sunday, I'm still growing, so it just made me feel better and I'm confident in myself that I can go out there and help my team out and win a football game for them."

While teammates branded him with nicknames like Superman on Wednesday, the humble Pierre-Paul acknowledged that he still has a long way to go. The defensive end is coming off perhaps his best professional game in the win over the Cowboys.

"I can be great," Pierre-Paul said when asked how good he can be. "Right now, I'm not at my potential yet, so I'm just learning and watching the other guys play too and I'm just learning from them."

Pierre-Paul was a one-man wrecking crew Sunday night with his impact plays all over the field, earning NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors from the league. He said that it was great to win the award, although he added that he didn't really know what it meant.

On Wednesday, he was the talk of the locker room. Victor Cruz said that he calls Pierre-Paul a beast. Antrel Rolle said that Pierre-Paul is the defensive MVP. Dave Tollefefson said Pierre-Paul is the Giants' Superman and if he keeps coming to save them, they'll be alright.

"If you take him out of that game, how we do we win it? Honestly," Tollefson said of the Dallas victory.

He added: "It wasn't surprising to me, to say the least. I expect that out of him every week, really, the type of player he is and how he is just learning the game on the fly. He's becoming a great player for this defense."

Pierre-Paul said it's nice to hear everyone talk highly of his game but wants to stay focused on football. He said that he is getting better and better each day, but has not "arrived" yet and there is still work ahead of him to continue to develop.

In the last year, Pierre-Paul said he's improved in the pass rush and defending the run, as well as learning how to think quicker on his feet. He said he played slow at times last year, which came from having to think too much. This season, he's instead been a menace for opposing quarterbacks and seeing plenty of double teams.

With his emergence for the Giants, Pierre-Paul has elicited some comparisons to former Giants legend Lawrence Taylor. While Pierre-Paul said he's not that familiar with LT, he knows that being mentioned in the same sentence with him when it comes to football is quite an accomplishment—but he still insists that he's barely scratched the surface.

"There's a lot for me to learn, trust me," Pierre-Paul said. "When I know I'm at my potential, you'll see. But right now, I'm just taking baby steps."