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JPP updates hand rehab; vows not to wear club

Posted Mar 15, 2016

Jason Pierre-Paul spoke to the media Tuesday, a few days after re-signing with the Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – It’s impossible to predict how his season will end, but Jason Pierre-Paul will have a much better start in 2016 than he did last year.

JPP said today he will report with his teammates to the start of the Giants’ offseason conditioning program on April 11. That already puts him ahead of where he was a year ago, when he was a free agent and a non-participant in the program. That commenced a long absence for the two-time Pro Bowler, who missed training camp after his now well-known July 4 fireworks accident and the first eight games of the regular season while he rehabilitated his badly-injured right hand.

“I am expected to be there, and I am going to be on time for everything,” JPP said on a conference call with Giants beat writers. “Anything can happen at any given moment, so as of right now, I am planning on being there and showing my face and being with the team on April 1. We just have to wait and see. Anything can happen, man.”

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He learned that last year because of the accident that cost him his right index finger and parts of two others. But he did return to start the final eight games, and his play improved throughout the second half of the season.

JPP played those games with his hand encased in a club that made grabbing opponents impossible. After the season, he underwent further surgery on his hand and intends to replace the club with a glove.

“I can use whatever I want – whatever makes me feel comfortable,” Pierre-Paul said. “Like I said before, I am not going to use a club next year. If I feel like I want to, I can, but my hand can be perfectly fine. I have said that multiple times so this should be a question that shouldn’t be asked anymore.

“I am doing everything possible to get my hand in the best position to play football. I am still doing rehab to this day; even when I go back to New York I will still be doing rehab. I am going to be doing rehab for the rest of my life, but it is nowhere close to where I need it to get right now. But at the end of the day, it will be before the season starts. I am capable of lifting weight and closing and gripping and all that, so it turned out pretty well; my surgery turned out pretty well.”

Pierre-Paul was without a contract when the free agency signing period commenced last week, but chose to sign a one-year contract to remain with the Giants.

“I am just excited that I have a chance to play football, man. Do what I love to do, come back to New York and play one year and show the fans and show everyone in the organization that Jason Pierre-Paul can still play some ball."

JPP drew some interest from other teams who might have offered him a longer contract. But he thought it was in his best interest on a shorter deal, which gives him a season to prove he can still be the destructive pass-rushing force that earned him two Pro Bowl selections.

“I have only been in New York, so it is hard to go somewhere for one year and try to learn the system and all of that,” he said. “So I decided that I would stay for that particular reason. New York has the best fans in the world. If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. So I wasn’t really too much worried about me going anywhere and trying to make it, because I know what kind of player I am.

“I feel like I had unfinished business to do. I didn’t have a full 16-game season last year. It was cut short to eight games. But I returned in the final eight games, and I was playing pretty well. I know what I am capable of doing on the field and how much I change the defense when I am around. I am more excited of getting in during training camp and OTAs and minicamp and actually starting on time and proving - well not really proving to anybody, because I always prove to myself, because I am doing things now that people said I couldn’t be doing - but just finishing what I started. I am already training and coming in and having a full training camp and getting into the season the very first game. When I step on the field in that first game I have to achieve everything that I want to achieve, and I have to stay healthy and play the whole 16 games, which I should.”

In addition to keeping Pierre-Paul, the Giants have also signed four defensive players: linebacker Kennan Robinson, tackle Damon Harrison, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and end Olivier Vernon, who is expected to start opposite JPP, who is entering his seventh season.

“I am more worried about myself,” Pierre-Paul said. “It starts with yourself first when you play football. You have to do all the right things and put yourself in the best position before the season starts. I think a person of his caliber is going to get the job done; Robert Ayers (isn’t) with us anymore, but he did a great job, too. So it is all about the person and what they bring to the team with these new guys that we got. I am happy that we got them and now it is time to do the work.”