EAST RUTHERROD, N.J. – Following his impressive, though sack-less, 2015 debut, Jason Pierre-Paul expects more of himself when the Giants host the New England Patriots on Sunday.
"I think, yeah, I'll be better this week than last week," Pierre-Paul said. "I was a little bit rusty, but each day is a day for me to get better, so I'm up for the challenge."
On a humid, 80-degree day in Tampa, Pierre-Paul played 46 of 63 defensive snaps (73 percent) and had two solo tackles. Most importantly, he was at his best late in the game, harassing quarterback Jameis Winston as the Buccaneers tried to tie the score in the fourth quarter.
Despite his long layoff, Pierre-Paul said he came out of the game in good shape.
"I felt good," he said. "Like I said, I was rusty. I felt like I played okay, I've got some work to do, but I'll be okay."
"Physically, I was good. I trained all season even with my incident or whatever it is, it happened or whatever, but I trained my butt off, so it was okay for me."
The "incident" JPP referred to was the July 4 fireworks accident that severely injured his right hands and forced him to miss the first eight games. But he debuted just 11 days after his first practice.
Pierre-Paul said the hand did not limit him physically or tactically.
"I wasn't sore, I wasn't anything," he said. "I came in Monday, I felt good, I felt great, and even after the game, I felt great. Like I say, I put in the work, so it really wasn't anything to me. It was just getting the reps out there and getting that conditioning in, that game mode, which I think I got in pretty good.
"My hand doesn't hurt, guys, so let me just get that out there. It doesn't hurt, there's no pain, so I'm good."
Pierre-Paul's entire right hand was wrapped up so that he appeared to be wearing a giant mitt. He said that will soon change.
"Sooner or later, I'm not going to use a club," Pierre-Paul said. "It's just for protection, but my hand didn't hurt. Like I said, it doesn't hurt, no pain, I'm just out there protecting myself. When I feel like I don't need it anymore, it'll be off."
Will be refine his technique going forward?
"Really anytime you have an injury, you're going to be iffy about stuff," JPP said. "I find myself being iffy about stuff, but just like my (2013) back surgery, I was scared to turn the corner. At some point in that season, I turned the corner then I hurt my shoulder or whatever, but I was doing pretty good. I trust myself, but I think I've just got to trust myself even more.
"I think my back surgery was worse. My hand, you would think is worse or whatever, but I think my back was worse. Yeah, I'm missing an index finger, but the back was worse."
On Sunday, the Giants will face Tom Brady and the 8-0 defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Brady has been the NFL's best quarterback this season, and the Giants are ranked last in the NFL in pass defense and sacks. It seems pressuring Brady will be imperative on Sunday.
"It's a big challenge," Pierre-Paul said. "He's a great quarterback. Pretty soon, he'll be in the Hall of Fame when he retires. But it's going to be a big challenge and we're up for a challenge."
Especially with JPP one week further into his return.
• The Giants are 7-20 in regular-season games against defending Super Bowl champions (though they are 3-0 in the postseason). Their last regular-season victory over a reigning champion was against Denver in 1998. They defeated the defending champion 15-1 Green Bay Packers in a 2011 NFC Divisional Playoff Game. The Giants' last loss to a team that won the title the previous season was last year in Seattle.
• The Giants' starting guards, Geoff Schwartz and Justin Pugh, were among six players who did not practice today. Schwartz has been taking Wednesdays off to rest his surgically-repaired left ankle. The reason for Pugh's absence was listed as "illness." He was examined today by an independent neurologist, and the conclusion from that exam is that Pugh is suffering from the effects of dehydration/heat, not a concussion.
Also missing practice were tight end Larry Donnell (neck), linebackers J.T. Thomas (ankle) and Uani 'Unga (neck), and wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf).
Cornerbacks Prince Amukamara (pectoral) and Leon McFadden (groin) were limited.
• The Giants-Patriots game will be broadcast on two national radio networks, ESPN Radio and
Best Photos from Wednesday's Giants practice