Coughlin cautious with Pierre-Paul

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin isn't sure if Jason Pierre-Paul will be ready for the season opener.

The Giants' star defensive end underwent back surgery on Tuesday, and his anticipated timetable for recovery is 12 weeks. If all goes well, Pierre-Paul could be recovered a week before the Sept. 8 opener at Dallas.

"I don't know that," Coughlin said when asked if his gut feeling is that Pierre-Paul will be ready for the Cowboys. "I am hoping but I wouldn't say that. That's an aggressive position to take. If anybody can do it, it's him.

"But I would like to wait and see and listen to what the professionals are telling us. That is the key right now."

Pierre-Paul underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a herniated disk in his lower back. A source told ESPN that doctors believe Pierre-Paul should be 100 percent for the coming season and will be ready for the season opener.

"Anybody who has had a back [injury] knows that is a very difficult thing to deal with," Coughlin said. "Nothing feels good, your whole body suffers under that circumstance, sometimes it is longer to recover than other injuries. There is some concern, but I am anxious about getting him back here and seeing him and talking to him. He may feel a lot better than he has. Who knows?"

Coughlin also hopes to see wide receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz at next week's mandatory veteran minicamp. Both starting receivers have not attended the team's voluntary OTA practices.

Coughlin still has not spoken to Nicks, who is entering the final year of his contract. He expects Nicks to be with the team next week.

"We have a mandatory camp," Coughlin said. "I would expect that [Nicks] would be here."

The coach said he likely will clear the air with Nicks once he sees the receiver.

Cruz has remained away from the team as he continues to seek a contract extension.

Because Cruz is not under contract and has yet to sign his one-year restricted free-agent tender, the team cannot fine Cruz if he does not attend next week's minicamp. A player under contract can be fined up to $60,000 if he skips all three days of minicamp.

"I think that Cruz is a different category [than Nicks]," Coughlin said. "I'd like to have him, don't get me wrong."

The feeling, though, has been that both receivers will be in uniform with the Giants when the season starts. Coughlin can't say the same for sure about Pierre-Paul.

Mathias Kiwanuka will slide into the starting spot opposite Justin Tuck at defensive end in practices while Pierre-Paul is out. Kiwanuka, who has played a hybrid linebacker/defensive end position the past couple of seasons, was already moving back full time to his natural defensive end position before Pierre-Paul's surgery.

"There's no doubt in my mind," Kiwanuka said of holding down the starting spot in Pierre-Paul's absence. "That's the position I came into this league playing and I'm looking forward to the opportunity. Obviously we'd love to have him back and I'm sure he'll be back ready to go at a certain point. We're not gonna rush him back for any reason."