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Giants coaches assess JPP in return to practice


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Steve Spagnuolo doesn't know when he'll get to unleash his new pass-rushing weapon, who happens to be a two-time Pro Bowl defensive end.

"I'm just glad he's back," Spagnuolo said today.

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Pierre-Paul continues to make steady progress as he prepares to increase his practice workload, and then play in his first game, though the date for that latter event has yet to be determined. He took some snaps with the scout team today, his second since rejoining the Giants on Tuesday. JPP has yet to play this season as he continues to work his way back after suffering serious injuries to his right hand in a July 4 fireworks accident.

"Today was really the first day he kind of did anything," Spagnuolo said. "I know he ran around yesterday, so I haven't really had a chance to watch the film. It's going to take a little while, it's really early now. We want to be optimistic, and I know he is, too, but I think we want to be smart about it. We'll just see where it goes."

The Giants have yet to set a date for Pierre-Paul's first game action because they frankly don't know when he will be ready. The team received a two-game roster exemption for him.

"It's hard to tell anything right now," Spagnuolo said. "We're just obviously all really happy he's back in the fold here. I don't know him as well as everybody else here, all the other coaches. I've admired him from afar, obviously, and know he's a really good football player. But it's up to the medical team, coach (Tom) Coughlin, Jerry (Reese the general manager), to make all the decisions on that."

Coughlin spoke to the media before practice, when he was asked to review JPP's first day of work.

"Moved around well," Coughlin said. "He moved well, and I think he proved to the medical people that he's in good shape. That's not to include all the back and forth, sideways stuff. He's going to have to work his way through some of that, too. But he's in excellent condition.

"His first visit (in early September), he was in pretty good cardiovascular shape and he's even better now."

Pierre-Paul is scheduled to speak publicly tomorrow.

Coughlin said the two-time Pro Bowler reported at 268 pounds, about 10 pounds lighter than his weight last season.

"He's not 278, but I think he's probably better to be 268, to be honest with you," Coughlin said. "I think that where he is right now, with some time spent in the weight room under the tutelage of our group, I think he'll be fine."

It was mentioned to Coughlin that Hall of Fame end Michael Strahan played at a lighter weight in the final seasons of his 15-year career.

"Later in the career, it works very well," Coughlin said. "It's an excellent formula at certain spots. Michael did very, very well much lighter than that, to be honest with you."

After being away from his teammates for 10 months, JPP is clearly thrilled to be back in the locker room and on the field.

"(He is) excited," Coughlin said. "Very, very glad to be back. I think he was really, really moved - if the word is right - to be in the practice yesterday, to be stretching with the guys etc. etc. I think that only gets better."

Coughlin was asked if Pierre-Paul seemed "subdued" because of the accident and its aftermath.

"I don't know about subdued," Coughlin said. "I think anyone who has experienced the trauma that he's gone through will kind of feel their way back into their place. He's a very confident young man, but he obviously has some things to prove."

To do that, he must first learn Spagnuolo's defense. The coordinator believes that will not be an issue.

"I think he fits right in," Spagnuolo said. "Football is football, and I don't think we've changed all that much from the standpoint of the position he plays. The terminology will be different, but (defensive line coach) Robert Nunn has been in there visiting with him time after time, so hopefully that learning curve won't be too steep."

When Pierre-Paul does play, Spagnuolo will most likely use him in specific situations initially.

"It's hard to throw a guy out there and play 65 plays," Spagnuolo said, "when you haven't done anything for a long period of time."

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