Giants players hail Jason Pierre-Paul's return, see him as 'focused' as ever

ByOhm Youngmisuk ESPN logo
Monday, November 2, 2015

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It didn't take long for Prince Amukamara and other Giants to notice a different and more serious Jason Pierre-Paul on Wednesday.

Rejoining the team for the first time in the building since a July 4 fireworks accident, Pierre-Paul was welcomed back with a team-wide applause in the Giants' morning meeting upon being reintroduced by Tom Coughlin.

"He still seems the same focused JPP, but there wasn't a lot of initial joking or how he's just like (usually) very charismatic," Amukamara said. "Just after talking to him, and I am sure whenever he gets his time to talk he will tell you himself, but to me, he's like a new person. He just seems very, just seems like his perspective on life has changed a little bit and seems more focused."

"It seems like he is on a mission to accomplish his goal before everything happened," Amukamara added.

One day after agreeing to terms on an incentive-heavy, one-year deal with the Giants, Pierre-Paul reacquainted himself with his team. Physically, he appeared a bit thinner than normal, although Coughlin said he was pleased to see Pierre-Paul come in at 268 pounds.

Some teammates were curious to see what shape Pierre-Paul would be in and what his surgically repaired right hand minus an amputated index finger looks like.

"Just never seen anything like that," Amukamara said of his first impression of Pierre-Paul's hand, which has a noticeable gap between the middle finger and thumb, where his amputated index finger once was.

While he did not practice, Pierre-Paul, wearing gloves, did some work on the side, such as exploding out of his stance and pushing a sled.

"The whole world had some type of curiosity, waiting for this," defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said of what shape Pierre-Paul will be in. "But he looked really good out there.

"We got a chance, while we were doing our drills, you look down and see him doing (work on the side)," Jenkins said. "He moves well. He is still as fast as ever, quick as ever. Excited to see him get back in action."

Coughlin said he wasn't sure yet if he would bring Pierre-Paul with the team to New Orleans for Sunday's game. Pierre-Paul is not expected to play.

But Giants players said Pierre-Paul's presence rejuvenated the defense in particular.

"We can look to him to see a symbol of strength because what he's been able to overcome and what he's been dealing with takes a lot of strength," defensive end Robert Ayers Jr. said. "For us to look to that, see him encouraging us is going to make us want to play harder for this team and for him and for this organization. It's going to be big if coach decides to do that. It's already big that he's here."

Jenkins said the Giants' D-line is "more complete" with Pierre-Paul's return.

"Instead of having to answer questions of when he will be back," he said, "he's back now."

And Pierre-Paul is back with a noticeably renewed focus.

"He's hungry," Ayers said. "I can see that in his eye. He loves being here, but I see hunger in his eyes, and that's good, because a lot of people are probably counting him out. He's been busting his behind. He's waiting for the opportunity to prove a lot of people wrong and to prove to himself what he can do. I'm excited to see how things unfold.

"It's a good day to be a Giant," Ayers said. "And it's a good day to be just part of this team, to get one of our brothers back."

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