“I don’t know,” said Pierre-Paul, a Pro Bowler each of the last two seasons. “Only time can tell. It’s all on me, how I recover.”
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Despite that ambiguity, the Giants are pleased with Pierre-Paul’s recovery and rehabilitation.
“He’s done very well and he’s worked hard at it,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “I’d say he’s probably within a couple of pounds of his playing weight. I’d say that with what he’s allowed to do, he does well. He has a specific routine that he does in the training room and he’s been able to do that well. So I am encouraged.”
Told that JPP wouldn’t put a timetable on his return, Coughlin said, “I wouldn’t either. You just see. He’s made good progress and he’s made it relatively fast.”
On June 4, Pierre-Paul underwent a microdiscetomy that was performed by Dr. Robert Watkins at Marina Del Rey Hospital in Marina Del Rey, Calif. The procedure repaired a herniated disk in his lower back.
JPP had battled lower back pain last season, when he finished with 6.5 sacks – 10 fewer than his 2011 total. At a news conference today at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center, Pierre-Paul talked about how his back pain affected him last season.
“I don't know how much my back had to do with it,” he said. “It just was a cause of pain when I’d get back in the stance and we played a 4-3, I’ve always got to be down and the push off that was there, you know that pain takes a big part of that.
“I can’t really give a percentage, though. It would take a while to figure it out, but at the end of the day, it was a pain. When you get in your stance, like, that hurts, for the pain I had that hurts, but I didn’t complain about that. I just dealt with it and played through it.”
The pain also affected him when he wasn’t in uniform.
“It was a constant pain like sitting down driving, sitting in the car driving for a long period of time, probably 30 minutes,” he said. “Moving around, standing up for a long period of time. It was constantly bothering me, but at the end of the day I didn't complain. I thought it was something like, if I just strengthened up my core I'd be fine, but they told me something the opposite.”
Pierre-Paul has felt much better since the surgery. The pain is gone and he said he is “75 percent” in terms of being ready for the season.
“The whole discomfort is gone,” JPP said. “When I sit down now I don’t have that pain anymore, stand up I don’t have that pain, I can stand up straight, basically everything is gone. The surgery went well. … I’m happy I did the surgery because now there’s nothing holding me back when I do get back.”
Pierre-Paul is on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. He is working hard with the Giants’ athletic trainers to regain his strength and agility. He weighs about 280 pounds and hopes to get down to 273.
When asked about his importance to the Giants’ defense, Pierre-Paul didn’t attempt to answer with false modesty.
“I think it’s very important,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t feel part of the team not being out there and doing the workouts they're doing and practicing with them. I’m doing the sideline like I said, but, through it all, I’m trying to get myself better and get healthy, that way I can be part of the team and help my team out.”
Pierre-Paul strongly believes he will again be one of the NFL’s best and most dominant defensive ends.
“I don’t have any concerns,” he said. “Honestly, my plan is to get better, come out here and be a big part of the team and try to get to the playoffs because that’s where it starts, to make a Super Bowl run. Trying to get back to the playoffs and be a better player than I was last year.”
The Giants expect nothing less.