Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul missed all of training camp and the preseason while recovering from back surgery, but he has played in each of the team’s first two games this season.
He has one sack in those games, which leads the Giants after two unimpressive efforts from their pass rush, but has otherwise looked like a depowered version of the player he was over the last couple of seasons. Pierre-Paul agreed with that assessment on Wednesday when he said he isn’t all the way back to game speed after recovering from the surgery.
“I’m fine, my back does not hurt at all,” Pierre-Paul said, via Bill Pennington of the New York Times. “That’s a good thing. But that doesn’t mean everything is back from a football-playing standpoint. I’m not playing like I used to, because my brain is thinking what to do, but my body isn’t responding yet. I’m getting healthier, and it’s getting better, but it isn’t there yet.”
Pierre-Paul said he was “terrible” in the season opener and bumped himself up to average in the loss to the Broncos. For the Giants defense to be as potent as it needs to be this season, Pierre-Paul has to be much more than that. As the most talented player in the front seven, the Giants rely on Pierre-Paul to draw extra attention from blockers to free up teammates while also using his athletic ability to make plays in the face of that extra attention.
Without that spark, things have looked pedestrian up front for the Giants, so the sooner it does get there for Pierre-Paul the better for the Giants.