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JPP welcomes healthy scratch at practice with big picture in mind

Posted Aug 2, 2017

DE Jason Pierre-Paul sat out Wednesday's practice as coaches try to keep veterans fresh for the regular season: 


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Jason Pierre-Paul will gladly sit out training camp practices if it helps him have perfect attendance in regular-season games.

The Giants’ two-time Pro Bowl defensive end did not practice today. Ben McAdoo’s succinct explanation was that JPP “needed the day off.” Pierre-Paul is not injured. But the Giants don’t want to physically overtax key veteran players. The goal is to ensure that they’re healthy and fresh entering the season, and not participating in every camp practice.

Just as Eli Manning is on a so-called pitch count, veterans like JPP are on a practice and/or reps count

>> 3 STANDOUT PLAYERS AT PRACTICE

“We’re going to be very consistent,” McAdoo said. “We’re going to treat every player differently.

“Jason wanted to practice today. We sat down and we talked about it. I told him to keep attacking everyday like does and keep attacking it, go out and practice and then play at a high level. It’s our job to make sure we take a look at the big picture.”

Pierre-Paul confirmed he could have practiced.

“Nothing is wrong with me,” he said. “Coach just pulled me out and said we are just doing what is best for the team, and what is best for me. I like to go, but he pulled me out and he is doing what is best for the team. … I want to be out here, they take precautions and stuff and I understand it. But I will be out there tomorrow.”

JPP also believes an off day now and then in camp will benefit him in the long run. After playing in every game in each of his first three seasons (2010-12), he has done it just once in the last four years, in 2014. In 2016, he missed the final four games, plus the NFC Wild Card Game, after suffering a core muscle injury at Pittsburgh on Dec. 4 and subsequently undergoing surgery.

It’s understandable, then, that his list of personal goals for this season does not begin with a sack or tackles total.

“My first goal this year is to just stay healthy,” Pierre-Paul said. “It’s been a while (since he played 16 games), but leading up to it I have been playing well. But the main thing for me is to stay healthy, and I feel like what coach did today was a big help as much as I wanted to be out there with my teammates. Just sitting on the sidelines and seeing things, I know exactly what is going to happen. And if that person doesn’t do it, it just makes me know that I know the game mentally, and I can just sit back and watch and focus on what I need to do right.”

The health theme was raised throughout Pierre-Paul’s news conference, such as when he was asked if the injury he suffered last season still bothers him.

“I am still rehabbing the core injury,” he said. “But with me, it is all about rehab, rehab, rehab. I am just trying to keep healthy this year and get through 16 games.”
 
Of course, every player’s first objective is to stay on the field, which is why McAdoo will likely encounter minimal resistance when he tells someone else to stand and watch for a day.

“Communication is a two-way street,” he said. “We make sure we communicate with the player and the player communicates with us. After studying the information and the data and the history of the player, I thought it was best for JPP to take a day to do some rehab to get ready to go tomorrow.”

When he does practice, the goals of the eight-year veteran aren’t exactly outlandish.

“I’m just working on the fundamentals, the details of the game,” he said. “That’s why we have training camp and that’s why we are here. Learn the fundamentals, learn the playbook, switch a couple things around and we just got to learn it.”

Last season, Pierre-Paul finished second on the team behind Olivier Vernon with 7.0 sacks. That increased his career total to 50.0, which is seventh on the Giants’ all-time list. In the last full game he played, at Cleveland on Nov.  27, he had a career-high 3.0 sacks among his seven tackles (five solo), forced a fumble that was recovered by Kerry Wynn and, more spectacularly, caught a ball Josh McCown had fumbled in midair  and returned it 43 yards for his third career touchdown. The performance earned him his fourth NFC Defensive Player of the Week Award.

After the season, the Giants rewarded him with a lucrative contract extension.

“It means a lot,” he said. “Being here for eight years, there have been ups and downs in my career. But at the end of the day I have managed. It just means a lot. The organization loves me, the fans love me, I love the fans, I love the organization and all I know is Giants football.”

This year, he hopes to be a part of it every time they take the field.