EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** Jason Pierre-Paul and Will Beatty are preparing for the 2014 season under very similar circumstances. Each was disappointed in his performance in 2013, they were each injured when the season ended and they are determined to return to their previous high performance levels in the upcoming season.
Pierre-Paul, the Giants' defensive right end, and Beatty the team's offensive left tackle, battle each other one-on-one every day in practice. Each said their regular confrontations help them prepare for the season perhaps better than anything else they do in training camp.
"He's healthy, I'm trying to get back healthy, so it's like, 'Let's do this,'" Beatty said at the Giants' training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. "We're on the same page. I'm going to go full speed and I'm going to give him the best I've got. And he knows it. And he knows, as a friend, as a teammate, that he's not doing me any favors taking any plays off. He's not saying, 'Oh, he's coming back, let me be easy on him.' So we're out there yapping, we're out there getting in each other's head. It's a friendly battle, knowing that it's going to make us both better."
"He does make me a better player," Pierre-Paul said. "I feel like, not just saying it to say it, but I feel like when I go against Will Beatty it's different. Going against him actually puts me in the position that when I do face the other tackles in our division, I'm already well-prepared and ready to get after it. It really puts me in a great position."
The Giants wore shoulder pads yesterday for the first time in camp, which meant the beginning of the one-on-one pass-blocking/pass-rush drill. Beatty and JPP went at it with ferocity, respect and camaraderie.
In team periods, they'll often line up just inches from each other. Pierre-Paul will say, "Will, I'm coming at you." And Beatty will respond with some variation of, "I'm ready, let's go."
"I'm looking forward to dominating Will Beatty, to kill him," JPP said. "Don't get me wrong, Will Beatty is a terrific guy. I think he's doing a great job. I've been going against him lately and I'm pretty sure he's not at his best. I'm not going to lie, he's been giving me a fight and I love that about him, because the more I fight with him, the more he fights with me, the better I get. I would never take a break on Will Beatty. At times in the locker room after practice, he'll be like, 'I got you on this one,' and I'll be like, 'No, you didn't. Let's watch the film.' He's a cool guy and I love him. I'm glad he's back out there with us. He's a big factor in our offense and we need him. Trust me, we need him."
"There are some plays where we're running the ball and I'll say, 'JPP, coming right there,'" Beatty said. "'You know I'm coming after you, see if you can stop me.' When we do one-on-ones I'm calling him out, he's calling me out. It's that friendly banter. It helps you, it gives you that extra hype. It's, 'I'm trying to dominate you, I want you to do the same.' You're giving your best effort, me giving my best effort, you know great things are going to come of it."
They would each like to forget the 2013 season. Pierre-Paul missed training camp after undergoing back surgery in June. He played in the first 11 games but had just 2.0 sacks, or 14.5 fewer than he had in 2011, the first of his two Pro Bowl seasons. Pierre-Paul hurt his shoulder vs. Oakland on Nov. 10 and played two more games before sitting out the final five games of the season.
Now Pierre-Paul says he feels great.
"I feel like my normal self," Pierre-Paul said. "I'm running around, getting to the quarterback, stopping the run. I'm awesome. I'm at 110 percent, really. I'm not really worrying about the back or shoulder, nothing. All is good."
"He looks good," defensive line coach Robert Nunn said. "I don't see any limitations. I don't know about what percentage he's at -- that's hard for me to calculate. But I see nothing that shows any kind of limitations. He really came in in good shape, good condition, good frame of mind, and is off to a really good start."
Beatty wasn't hurt until he broke his tibia in the season finale vs. Washington. But good and healthy did not equate to strong play. Beatty will be the first to admit he struggled both to clear holes in the running game and trying to protect Eli Manning.
"He's not that player, he was a different player," offensive line coach Pat Flaherty said. "That starts with me coaching. To be able to coach somebody, he has to be out there on the practice field. If he's not practicing the day-to-day drills, then that sets you back, which affects your techniques on Sundays. The flaws are magnified. That's what happened. This year, we'll see. He's attacking and making sure it doesn't happen again."
"JPP and I have talked a little bit about what happened last season," Beatty said. "We said, 'Let's make sure we're going after each other.' If we're going after each other and JPP gets around me, even though he can't touch Eli, that's a sack in his mind. He gets a sack on me in practice, that equals a sack in a game. I'm not allowing that, because that equals a sack against me in the game. So we're fighting like, 'This isn't practice, this is a game situation.' If he gets one, he's coming in the locker room, 'I got that sack.' I'll say, 'I shut you down one-on-one, three plays and you did nothing.' The next day we go one-on-ones, I'm up first, let's get it. It's that type of thing that just gets us going. When we go into the game it's like, 'He's not better than you, why are you letting him beat you? He's just so and so, you've been working with me all week.' So that's the kind of thing we're doing, like we are the top in the NFL and if you practice like that, you play like that."
Beatty underwent surgery on his leg in January and did not participate in the team's spring practices. But that didn't preclude him from needling his worthy adversary at defensive end.
"Even though I was injured and couldn't do anything, I'd be like, 'Go ahead, you can relax now, you can enjoy these OTAs, go ahead and have your fun,'" Beatty said. "But once we get those pads on it's going to be a different thing. We're constantly going against each other and it's good for us. It's good for the younger guys to see that. They see what you do and it's that culture that we're trying to build back and it's New York Giants hard-hitting football."
"Now that Will's back, we've been trash talking," Pierre-Paul said. "We have a great chemistry. I make him a better player. Even my coach said that I make him a better player and I know that I'm making him a better player as he makes me a better player. We can play well beyond our expectations. We're waiting for it and we're waiting for that game one to prove it."
Giants.com highlights 13 photos that tell the story of the first week of Giants 2014 Training Camp