EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** Few members of the Giants organization have felt Jason Pierre-Paul's absence as acutely as Robert Nunn.
The team's defensive line coach, Nunn only misses his best and most dynamic player for personal and personnel reasons, and must find a way to compensate for JPP's missing production. Pierre-Paul was injured in a fireworks accident on July 4, and his return to the team is an open-ended question.
"He's been an outstanding player," Nunn said today. "When he's been healthy, he's been as good as there is in the league, and so we were all looking forward to that. Hey, it was a crazy thing that happened, but it happened. It was an accident, a horrible accident, life-changing experience, and so we're going to move on from there and make the best of it."
Pierre-Paul has had limited contact with the team's leadership since the incident, but he has communicated with Nunn.
"I've spoken to him on the phone," Nunn said. "I've texted him back and forth, and mostly about things other than football. The first thing, it's been talked about before, it was a tragic thing that happened, major accident. Everybody has their beliefs on what happened, what should have happened, and make of it what they want to, but the guy went through a tough thing. It was a tough situation to be in, so when I talk to him we talk more about where he is from a mental standpoint. I texted him back and forth, just to let him know that we're here for him.
"Whatever he needs, we're here for him, and his response has been, 'Coach, I'm good, I want to get myself right, and I'll be back.' That's kind of where it stands. I don't know any more than what you guys know from that standpoint. Most of my conversations with him have been about things other than football."
Nunn has conferred with general manager Jerry Reese, who has also spoken to Pierre-Paul.
"Jerry and I talk almost daily when I talk to him," Nunn said. "If he (Pierre-Paul) asks me not talk about it, I don't talk about it, but we don't really get into that. It's not anything everyone knows. I just want to know where he is from an emotional and mental standpoint, and we've told him, everybody in this building has told him, we're here for him. Whatever you need, just let us know how we can help. So that's been the conversation, but there's really not any more to it other than that. He shoots me a funny text every so often and I'll shoot one back. Some of the guys have talked to him, I think, and texted him about the meetings and we have some laughs. He's not here to defend himself when we bust his chops, and so we laugh about that. It's that kind of conversation."
Coach Tom Coughlin reached out to JPP shortly after the accident, but was unable to connect with him. Coughlin said today that could soon change.
Photos of players during Giants Training Camp Friday
"I think I will speak to him (shortly)," Coughlin said. "I have not talked to him yet, but I am anticipating talking to him perhaps before the end of the week."
Asked why, Coughlin said, "I just have a premonition. So far my premonitions, none of them have worked.
"If and when it happens, I am concerned about knowing how he feels. Where is he? How is he coming along? I won't even ask about the extent of the injuries, but I'll let him tell me. Why isn't he here?"
From a football standpoint, the Giants must compensate for Pierre-Paul's ability to harass and tackle quarterbacks whose objective is to pass the ball. JPP has 42.0 career sacks in five seasons. The top four defensive ends currently in uniform – Robert Ayers, George Selvie, Damontre Moore and Kerry Wynn – have 37.0 sacks in 14 combined years. Pierre-Paul led the Giants with 12.5 sacks last year.
The Giants also have third-round draft choice Owa Odighizuwa, free agent Jordan Stanton and Brad Bars.
"We've got a group of defensive ends that have come in here with the right frame of mind, and I really feel good about the rotation," Nunn said. "Right, left, starter, non-starter, we've got a good group, and we're going to keep building every day and stacking successes. Young guys come in and are doing what we ask them to do, and I like where we are. Preseason games will tell us where we stack up as far as against other offenses, but I like where we are going into this practice here Saturday, and going to Cincinnati next week and we'll see where we stand."
The Giants are hopeful Pierre-Paul will travel to New Jersey sooner rather than later.
"Everybody is guessing," Nunn said. "Nobody knows right now, and he texted me just this morning to tell me he's good today. I kind of keep up with him like that. Every day or every other day, I'll shoot something at him with text. Again, it's all usually about something other than football. We talked about we miss him in meetings and busting his chops in meetings and we kind of laugh about it. That's kind of where it goes. I don't know any more than that.'
- Coughlin said linebacker Jameel McClain, who suffered a stinger on Wednesday, "will be (out) a while. He has had some issues in the past and they are trying to rule out a bunch of things. I'm not going to rush a guy back in, forget that stuff. It is just like a head (injury), we aren't going to rush anyone back in who has an injury like that."
- The Giants had a jog-through in shorts today after two days in full pads. They will work in pads tomorrow.
"We went two hard (practices) in a row and we have a hard one tomorrow, so this would be the natural down curve," Coughlin said. "We thought this was the time to go with a mental day, a learning day, rather than anything physical, so we can get something done tomorrow."
- Center Weston Richburg (knee tendonitis) and rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers (hip flexor), who sat out the last two days, were on the field today. Guard Geoff Schwartz (ankle) was not.
Coughlin is hopeful Richburg and Flowers will participate in tomorrow's more rigorous workout.
"They are not going to get the full green light," Coughlin said. "They are going to be restricted, but I'm thinking they will be out there."
- Coughlin said he will not bring the full roster to Cincinnati for next week's joint practices and preseason opener, but isn't ready to say who will stay here.
"They have to be ruled out of the game not to go," he said. "They may be 'can't work today but we'll see' kind of people and they will come."
- Wide receiver Chris Harper was waived injured.
- The Giants signed rookie safety Justin Halley, a 6-foot, 191-pounder from Florida International. He played in 43 games with 29 starts and had 158 career tackles and six interceptions. As a senior last year, Halley started all 11 games and had 46 tackles (34 solo).