The Giants are so intent on putting pressure on Tom Brady in Super Bowl XLVI they're not waiting until game time to apply it.
Jason Pierre-Paul, whose team-high 16.5 sacks included a four-yard takedown of Brady in the Giants' victory over New England on Nov. 6, said Thursday that the Patriots' quarterback was affected by the Giants' rush that evening.
"I think it will have much impact on his performance because if you look at Week 9, when we played them, it's like he felt us," Pierre-Paul said. "When we looked back on the film, we watched the film, and we didn't really rush like we can rush as a defense. He was throwing balls on the ground and stuff, but like I said, it's going to be a battle. We have to get there. We have to."
A reporter followed up by asking Pierre-Paul if Brady reacted to pressure "that wasn't actually there."
"He did react to pressure that didn't exist, and he was just throwing the ball places where there wasn't even a receiver there," Pierre-Paul said. "Imagine us getting there even faster and actually doing our jobs and getting hits on him."
Getting to Brady will be one of the top objectives of the Giants defense on Sunday. The formula worked in the Giants' victory over New England in Super Bowl XLII, when the Giants had five sacks and hit Brady nine times.
So how often does the defensive line need to hit Brady this time?
"As many times as possible," defensive end Osi Umenyiora said. "I think they are going to do a lot of things to try and prevent that, but at the end of the day, whenever we have our chance we are going to have to take it."
"It's always the key when you've got a quarterback like him," said Justin Tuck, the left end. "There are a few guys you'd put in that category and I'm sure (the Patriots) are telling their D-line the same thing about Eli (Manning). For us it always remains the same – stop that run and don't give the quarterback those options and get after him."
The defensive linemen aren't the only players who are eager to see Brady face plenty of heat in the Super Bowl. The linebackers and defensive backs know their jobs will be easier if Brady doesn't have time to scope out his receivers.
"It doesn't matter who the quarterback is, you want to pressure any quarterback," cornerback Corey Webster said. "You don't want any quarterback to stand back there and be comfortable and have time to make all of the throws. A guy like Tom Brady, he is a great quarterback and can make all the throws. You definitely don't want him to be standing upright and comfortable in that situation. You have to do whatever you can do to disrupt his front and change up the timing with the receivers. I think that can help you get a W when you are playing that type of high powered offense."
Brady has been sacked only once in two postseason games. His playoff passer rating of 105.8 is almost identical to his regular season rating of 105.6. In 18 games, Brady has thrown 45 touchdown passes and only 15 interceptions.
But Brady can't post those numbers if he's being chased all over the field or if he's on his back.
"He is a great quarterback, a great football player," Umenyiora said. "The most we can do is just try to get as much pressure as we can on him, cover his receivers and try and confuse him as much as we can. It is going to be hard, but at the end of the day, that is what we have to do."
Linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka, who also plays some defensive end, summed it up best when asked what the line's plan should be for Sunday.
"Play hard, play smart, and hit the quarterback," Kiwanuka said.
*Umenyiora Thursday apologized for missing Wednesday's mandatory media session. He was fined $20,000 for his absence.
"Honest mistake," Umenyiora said. "We had just gone through the whole Media Day the day before so I wasn't sure that this was mandatory so I went to hang out with my family. It was a mistake, a costly one, but a mistake nonetheless."
Was Umenyiora shocked at the amount of the fine?
"No, it makes sense," he said. "It makes sense because the NFL is a business, you understand. Players are the product, and the fans are the customers. The only way that we can reach them is through you guys, the media, so we have to be responsible and speak to the people. If it was like a $1,000 fine or something like that, most of the people they will laugh at it. They wouldn't even come downstairs and talk, but you make the fine substantial enough it is going to make people want to show up."
*Running back Ahmad Bradshaw practiced on a limited basis for the second day in a row – which Coach Tom Coughlin believes is a first for this season. Umenyiora (ankle/knee) was the only other Giant who was limited. Bradshaw, who has practiced once a week for most of the season, was eager to get on the field on Wednesday, when the Giants returned to work after a three-day break.
"Just to get my legs up under me," he said. "We've been staying in this hotel for the last couple of days, sitting on our butts in meetings and everything else, so I just wanted to get my feet up under me and get out there and have fun.
"I think it was a surprise just because I haven't been out there on Wednesday in a while. Like I said, I just wanted to get out there and run around and just get the flow of the defenses and different things they'll throw at us."
On Thursday Bradshaw tripped going through the line on one running play early in the session. But he hopped up and was able to continue, and he showed no signs of limping with the nagging foot injury, completing practice as normal. "It looked like he tripped over the fullback's foot,'' Coughlin told a pool reporter. "But he's fine.''
Bradshaw said prior to the workout that he expected to sit out practice Friday and Saturday.
*Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (shoulder), linebacker Jacquian Williams (foot) and Webster (hamstring) all practiced fully.
Asked in general about the practice, Coughlin said, "We did fine. The energy level, the enthusiasm, the excitement is all there, as it should be, as it was yesterday. They're really excited to practice for the game. I think they've done very well. This was a good day of preparation.''
*Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who did not practice Wednesday, worked on a limited basis Thursday. Gronkowski's availability and – assuming he plays – effectiveness is the biggest mystery approaching Super Bowl XLVI.
"He did some things. He didn't do everything," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told a pool reporter. "We'll see how he is tomorrow. I think that will be the big key – how he responds to this today."
The Giants fully expect Gronkowski – who has scored 20 touchdowns in 18 regular season and postseason games – to line up as usual.
"You have to prepare like he is going to be 100 percent," safety Kenny Phillips said. "It is the Super Bowl and he is going to come out there, whether he is 100 percent or not, and he is going to give it 100 percent. He is going to do his best to help his team win the game. So if you prepare like he's not going to be, then you are only going to hurt your team and yourself."
*Phillips on Antrel Rolle, who is both a fellow safety and fellow University of Miami alumnus: "He's crazy. That's basically all I will say. He's crazy, but he is very passionate about everything that he does. He wears his emotions on his chest, and he is just very outspoken."
*General manager Jerry Reese knows his reputation improves or takes a hit based on the team's performance.
"It's just part of it," Reese said. "Last year, we win 10 games and we don't qualify for the tournament and you're not that smart. This time, we win nine games, win a division, less games, and now it seems I'm pretty smart again. It just comes with the territory and that's just part of it. It just is what it is."
*Punter Steve Weatherford is the team's emergency quarterback, a role he expects never to fill but relishes nonetheless.
"I am an option guy," Weatherford said. "I am not really a pocket passer like Eli (Manning). I like to use my athleticism to make the defensive ends nervous. God forbid Eli jams his finger and David (Carr) gets a cramp. They've been game-planning me this week. Be encouraged about that."
*Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, who was the offensive coordinator on Tom Coughlin's first Jacksonville Jaguars teams in 1995-96, does not agree with those who say the Giants' head coach has significantly changed since then.
"This disappoints everybody when I say it, but he's not as different as people would like him to be," Gilbride said. "I think the thing that is his greatest strength is his consistency of his message. He does some things a little differently, there is no question, but he has always been about what is best for the team. How do we go about our business preparing to win? When you've got the right kind of guys they respond to it. When you've got guys that are not the right kind of guys they are resentful and they feel like their personal liberties are being taken away or something. But we've got a group of players, and they are responding very well to him this year."
Has Coughlin's softened at all?
"If he has, then I haven't seen it," Gilbride said. "He is a good man. That is the bottom-line. He has a very strong opinion about how to go about the business of preparing a team, and there is not much variation or fluctuation."
*Guard Chris Snee said he had trouble relaxing the night before his first Super Bowl four years ago.
"Yeah, it was tough," Snee said. "I remember not feeling very well the night before. It was exciting. This is the Super Bowl. This is what you envision as a child, and it's exciting that it's here in front of you and that you're one of two teams playing, and that's for the right to say you're the best in the NFL."
*Here now, Eli Manning's Peyton Manning comment of the day (yes, the questions kept coming on the final day of media availability:
"I don't know what's going to happen with Peyton. I know he is rehabbing. He is going to try to get better. I know he wants to continue to play football, if that's an option. The No. 1 priority for him is to get a 100 percent. Until he gets to that position, it's tough to say what is going to happen."
*Coughlin said the Giants will not switch hotels Saturday night to a more secluded venue, which some teams often do to get away from the Super Bowl Eve clamor. The Giants didn't do it in their last Super Bowl appearance under Coughlin four years ago either, but that time was different because the Giants were at a hotel removed from downtown Phoenix. This year, the team is in a hotel in downtown Indianapolis, a short walk from Lucas Oil Stadium, but Coughlin said he is satisfied that the venue will be suitable for players to get their rest undisturbed Saturday night.