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Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Jason Pierre-Paul won't rush back

By Dan Graziano

So, according to Ohm, who's out there at New York Giants practice today, this is what Giants GM Jerry Reese said on the radio about defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and his recovery from back surgery:
"He's looking good, he's running around a little bit. He's going to be out on the field a little more than usual as we move along. We expect him hopefully to be back, ready to go for the [Week 1] Dallas game."

And this is what Pierre-Paul said on the same topic a short while later:
"I don't know. I can't promise nothing. I can't say I will be back for the season opener."
Pierre-Paul
Now, I'm no linguistics expert or anything like that, but Reese and Pierre-Paul seem to be saying somewhat divergent things on this topic. Reese, who hung a countdown clock in the locker room to remind the team how many days are left until the Super Bowl will be played at its own home stadium, is eager to have his best defensive player on the field for all 16 games. Pierre-Paul, whose back is the one that was actually operated on, isn't so sure how he's going to feel five Sunday nights from now when it's time to play the Cowboys in Dallas.

Me, I'd tend to side with Pierre-Paul on this. It strikes me that playing defensive end in the NFL is something that's very hard even when your back feels fantastic. If Pierre-Paul's isn't 100 percent, I don't blame him for wanting to wait a little while to get it there. He is 24 years old and thinking about as long a future as possible in the league. Missing a game or two early in the 2013 season would feel to him like a small price to pay for an improved chance at long-term health.

The team's standpoint may well be different. The Giants' stated goal is to go from being a good regular-season team to a great one -- to win 11 or 12 games instead of the 9 or 10 they win every year. That means every game is important, and while yes, I know they've never lost there, Week 1 at Cowboys Stadium isn't a gimme. Neither, by the way, is the Week 2 home opener against Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

Pierre-Paul isn't going to rush back until he feels sure he can play, and that's his right and the smart move. The team's not going to force him to play before he's ready, either. But the issue is a significant one for the Giants until they see Pierre-Paul back on the field and fully healthy. Without him, their pass rush simply isn't going to be what they need it to be.