EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** Last week, for the first time in his four-year NFL career, Jason Pierre-Paul watched a Giants game on television.
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Know Your Opponent: Chargers "It was kind of weird," he said today. "It didn't even feel like I played football. I felt like I was a fan, watching and waiting for Sunday to come and knowing that I wasn't going to be able to play. I sat down and watched my team and watched the Washington Redskins thinking, 'What would I be doing if I was in there?' But it's like that sometimes when you're hurt and you can't go. When you're hurt, you can play; when you're injured, you can't. This injury is just something I've got to look past, keep on getting rehab on it, and hopefully I'll be back before the season ends."
The injury to which JPP refers is to his right shoulder. It forced him to miss the Giants' 24-17 victory in Washington, ending a streak of 59 consecutive games played to start his career. Pierre-Paul doesn't know when or if he will return in the season's final four regular-season games, beginning Sunday in San Diego. He said there have been no discussions about declaring him out for the year.
"Shutting it down is not in my category, otherwise I would have shut it down when I got the injury, which was the Oakland game (on Nov. 10)," said Pierre-Paul, who did not practice today. "That's not an option for me. You never know what might happen, to shut it down and my team needs me badly, that's just very selfish of me and I'm not a selfish player. I'll do anything I can to get back on the field quicker. It started from Week 1, so you've seen that. I'm not shutting it down yet, otherwise, I would have shut it down and called it a season for me. I'm in the training room getting rehab, I'm home doing rehab, I'm doing whatever it takes to get Jason Pierre-Paul back on the field."
Asked if he is "hopeful" of returning to the field this season, Pierre-Paul said, "Hopefully. I hope so. I'm taking it day-by-day. I'm in the training room 24/7. Even at home, I'm doing rehab. I'm doing everything that I possibly can to put me back on the field."
When Pierre-Paul someday reflects on his career, it's likely the 2013 season will not be one of his favorites. He missed training camp because he was still rehabbing after undergoing surgery on June 4 to repair a herniated disk in his back. He was in the lineup for the start of the season, but the Giants lost their first six games. The-two-time Pro Bowler had just 2.0 sacks in 11 games. He hurt his shoulder, but that didn't prevent him from returning an interception 24 yards for a touchdown in the next game and being named NFC Defensive Player of the Week. Now he's working and hoping to get back on the field.
"This season has been up and down for me," JPP said. "I'm not frustrated at it. At the end of the day, I just have to get better and get healthy and come out and know what I can do best and that's play football. For me, not playing, it's very frustrating but at the end of the day I'd rather get healthy than put myself in jeopardy out there if I'm out there and can't perform at the level that I know I can perform. The only thing I can do now is just to get healthy and finish the season off."
Pierre-Paul said he does not expect to have surgery on the shoulder.
"That would set me back some more, I hope not," Pierre-Paul said. "I'm pretty sure it's nothing that needs surgery on, it just needs rest."
JPP concedes that if he does return this season, he will not be the player he wants to be, or the player that earned the first of his two Pro Bowl selections with 16.5 sacks in the Giants' 2011 Super Bowl season.
"I'm not going to be myself until next year," Pierre-Paul said. "I was starting to get it in that Oakland game and then I had another injury happen, but that's a part of football. I already know I'm not going to be my complete self until this next offseason. I'm doing whatever I can to get back. I'm not a selfish player. If I can't go, I can't go. I'm not going to go out there and try to take reps that I know I can't take, that's selfish of me.
"I'm not going to play unless I'm going to be a factor and I know that I'm going to be able to protect myself. That's the main key. I'm getting rehab, it has been frustrating just watching the guys play out there without me because as a football player, you want to be out there to support the team. I was watching the game as a fan on Sunday and I was really disappointed. I even tweeted about how disappointed I was, but I was happy. At the end of the day, it is what it is. I'm just trying to get better."
*Cornerback Terrell Thomas was the only other player who did not practice today and that was because it was his normal rest day. Three players were limited: running back Brandon Jacobs (knee), and cornerbacks Corey Webster (ankle) and Trumaine McBride (groin).