Giants could get DE Jason Pierre-Paul at some point in playoffs

ByJordan Raanan ESPN logo
Tuesday, December 27, 2016

There is a glimmer of hope thatNew York Giantsdefensive end Jason Pierre-Paul could return from his core muscle injury in time for wild-card weekend Jan. 7-8, multiple sources told ESPN.

The Giants have even more confidence that he could be available for the divisional round of the playoffs and expect him to contribute if they make an extended postseason run.

Pierre-Paul has missed the past three games and is expected to miss Sunday's regular-season finale against theWashington Redskins.

The Giants (10-5) are locked into the No. 5 seed in the NFC after winning two of three with Pierre-Paul sidelined. They will play the worst of the four division winners on the road in a wild-card matchup. Their potential opponents are the Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons.

Pierre-Paul has been telling most teammates he'll be back as soon as his body allows. He repeated the same on Instagram over the holiday weekend.

The former Pro Bowl defensive end still has a ways to go. He has yet to return to practice after undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia and his groin earlier this month. His expected recovery time was at least six weeks, which put his return at the conference championship round.

But Pierre-Paul has been known to overcome long odds before. His career was in jeopardy following a Fourth of July weekend fireworks accident last year that cost him his right index finger and parts of several others. He was back on the field four months later. He returned this season in great shape and strongly resembled the player he was before the incident.

General manager Jerry Reese and several others in the Giants organization called it a "miracle" that Pierre-Paul returned at all. They were in awe of his work ethic and ability to overcome adversity and the physical limitations, which haven't been noticeable this season.

Pierre-Paul, 27, was back to playing at a Pro Bowl level before injuring his groin in a loss earlier this month to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was a factor against the run and as a pass-rusher working on the left end of the Giants' defensive line, which had developed into the strength of the team. Along with Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison and Johnathan Hankins, the Giants boasted one of the league's best front fours.

Undrafted rookie Romeo Okwara has filled in for Pierre-Paul serviceably, but he has fallen off after a standout first start.

Pierre-Paul had 53 tackles and seven sacks in 12 games this season. He also led the Giants and was second in the NFL with eight batted passes and led all defensive linemen in snaps at the time of the injury.

Pierre-Paul is set to become a free agent at the end of the season.