EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Joe Judge expressed his high regard for Jabrill Peppers, one day after the Giants announced their safety and defensive captain would miss the rest of the season with a ruptured ACL and high ankle sprain in his right leg.
The Giants' second-year coach said he has had several conversations with Peppers, who was injured returning a third-quarter punt in Sunday's 25-3 victory against Carolina.
"He was in our squad meeting this morning with us, as well," Judge said. "It's really tough for a guy like Jabrill who puts so much – and I don't want to speak for him, I'm just speaking from my opinion of him – it's really tough having a guy like that who puts so much into the team, puts the team first, does everything you ask him to do to the best of his ability, brings so much juice to the team, is a productive player on the field, wears so many hats for you (on) the team and it's always, 'Whatever you need, Coach. Here I go,' and for this to end his season, that's something you don't want to see for any player. It's tough seeing it for Pep, it really is."
The Giants released a video of Peppers, at Judge's direction, breaking down the team huddle in the postgame locker room.
Was that because Peppers was injured?
"We vary it a lot, but I would say last week he broke the team down several times," Judge said. "Pep did a great job practicing last week, he really did. Pep's a guy that when you come in on Wednesdays that – he wears his heart on his sleeve, so he's moved onto the next game, but you can tell he hasn't gotten that taste out of his mouth until he gets to the next game. Pep came out last week, he did a great job practicing for us, really preparing. He brings a lot of juice and energy to the practice. He really gets a lot of guys going with him."
"We've had him break it down in the past a number of times. Broke it down last week a couple of times at practice. As we were breaking down the team and talking to the team, he came wandering out of the showers and joined us just in time, and it was a good opportunity just to have him come in there and talk to the team. We want to have Pep with us as much as we can. Obviously, the trainers will have some say in that in terms of what's best for him in his recovery. If he can travel with us, he's definitely someone we want with us on the trip. If he's able to be on the sideline with the team, he's definitely someone we want down there as far as bringing leadership and experience."
Judge seldom if ever speaks about a player's contract. But perhaps because of the respect he has for Peppers, Judge alluded to the third-year Giant's impending free agency.
"There are some other things (from) the business standpoint, too," Judge said. "Look, this guy is in a contract year, it's something I've talked to him about directly. He's a guy that I value a lot in this program. I'd love to have this guy going forward, I've told him that directly. He's been a very good leader for us. You can talk about him being local, that the Giants mean something to him. I think that's very important. He's a guy that loves football, he loves this organization, he loves this area. Those are things we talk about building as cornerstones and pillars of this program and he's a very important part of our program."
View photos of Giants safety Jabrill Peppers.