Jason Pierre-Paul has proved a “very pleasant surprise” to Bucs


The Bucs knew Jason Pierre-Paul would help their pass rush when they traded for him. But he’s proved more than a pass rusher, taking on a leadership role with his words and his work ethic.

Very pleasant surprise,” Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “I guess I wasn’t expecting JPP to be the practice player and the leader that he’s been so far. Really fired up about it. Sometimes a guy that’s got his pedigree comes in and is looking for way out of drills and that’s not him at all.”

Pierre-Paul “routinely” beat Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan during a joint practice with the Titans, according to Stroud.

Pierre-Paul, who attended South Florida, has 58.5 sacks in eight seasons, but he has not had a double-digit sack season since 2014. He made 8.5 sacks last season.

The Bucs, though, expect Pierre-Paul to contribute in a big way both on the field and off.

“Him being in Tampa where he grew up is really important to him,” quarterback Jameis Winston said. “You can tell that he really loves football and being a great veteran guy, we look up to guys like that and we love his tenacity and enthusiasm, bringing it from the Giants.”