Jason Pierre-Paul missed the entire summer after needing to have back surgery to repair a herniated disc, which eliminated from from training camp and all four preseason games, but has played in both regular season games for the New York Giants, but has not recorded a sack in that time.
JPP is still in the process of getting back to playing at game speed and has acknowledged that he isn't playing at full speed and told Dave Hutchinson of the Newark-Star Ledger that he is looking at a different version of himself on the field and in game films.
“It’s like my head is thinking but my body isn’t responding,” Pierre-Paul said this afternoon. “I’m just trying to get back to the physical part of the game. It’s like you have a big caution sign on you, a big yellow sticker. You’re fearful for somebody to hit you but at the end of the day you know you have to play. … I haven’t seen the old JPP, either. I’m not getting off the ball as quick, rushing the passer as quick. I see myself stopping a lot.”
After JPP's breakout season in 2011 where he had 16.5 sacks, many felt he took a major step backwards in 2012 when he only had 6.5 sacks and many felt that the league was already catching up to the premier pass rusher, but little did anyone know that he was playing in pain for the majority of the season and thought he was strong enough to get through, but the back pain got to be too much to where he needed the surgery to repair the damage.
JPP knows that he isn't playing well and knows that he is the fuel behind the Giants defensive line and pass rush that makes it a ferocious unit; something it hasn't been since they won the Super Bowl two seasons ago.
“Personally, I know I’m not playing as well as I’ve played in the past but it is what it is,” said Pierre-Paul, who had 16.5 sacks in 2011 before back pain contributed to that total free-falling to 6.5 last season. “I’m just coming off back surgery. I just have to get healthy. From the first game to the second game, you can see a big difference. The first game (vs. Dallas), I played like crap. The second game, I played okay. I’m getting better and better each day and that’s all that counts.”
While JPP is getting his back healthy, something he insists that is and pain-free, he's still not playing at the elite status and in his own terms, "playing like crap," but like he said, it will take time for him to get back to his old status, and to where the opposing coaches and quarterbacks fear seeing number 90 on the field chasing after them.
“It’s going to take time for me to get back in the game mode and for quarterbacks to actually fear me," he said.
The best thing for JPP to do is play against actual competition, even though being on the field practicing is good, facing off against the opponents offensive lines will be the only way Pierre-Paul gets back to his elite status and as one of the league's best defensive ends and pass rushers. On Sunday, JPP will have the task of trying to slow down Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, who are also 0-2 and looking for their first win of the season, the same very thing the Giants will be looking to do when they take the field in North Carolina.
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