EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** Jason Pierre-Paul has 9.5 sacks this season, the second-highest total of his career. He had 16.5 sacks in 2011, but JPP today responded with an emphatic "nope" when asked if reaching double-digits matters to him.
"I am just playing football," Pierre-Paul said. "I think I am doing a great job at it."
That's hard to dispute. The two-time Pro Bowler has 6.0 sacks in the last three games after compiling 3.5 in the first 11 contests. JPP had a career-high 2.5 sacks in a victory last week over Washington.
Pierre-Paul insists that is not an indication his play has improved.
"Before my sack numbers (rose), I was playing well," he said. "It is all about numbers, but I was playing well before that, way before my numbers."
JPP also said his sack resurgence is not due to more aggressive play-calling by defensive coordinator Perry Fewell.
"It was mostly the communication part," Pierre-Paul said. "Anytime the communication is not there, it will lead to chaos, especially on the (defensive) line. It has been there and we have been rolling with it with the guys that we have. I think we have been doing a very good job of that."
Fewell was quick to credit JPP for the increased pressure he's put on quarterbacks the last three weeks.
"I think he's kind of taken it upon himself with the other defensive linemen to apply more pressure," Fewell said. "We've always emphasized it. It's always been a stress point. I think he's just cranked it up a notch to try to do better and to do more.
"I just think JPP has turned it up a notch this second half of the season, with the last three, four ballgames. He's setting the edge of our defense. That's what we've asked him to do. He's been setting the edge of our defense and has been solid over on the left side. Now we've moved him around, both left and right, but he's doing a good job of setting the edge our defense."
Asked if he's calling anything differently, Fewell joked, "If I told you that, I'd have to kill you."
According to Fewell, Pierre-Paul was most impressive on what proved to be the key play of the game.
On the final play of the first half – from the Giants' eight-yard line - Washington's Robert Griffin III took off for the end zone. Pierre-Paul, hustling from the opposite side of the field, met him at the goal line and forced Griffin to bobble the ball. The play was originally called a touchdown, but after the score was nullified after a review by referee Jeff Triplette, who said Griffin did not regain possession before he landed. Instead of leading, 17-7, Washington's advantage at halftime was just three points.
"Amazing," Fewell said. "Absolutely amazing, because RG3 is a 4.4, 4.5 guy. JPP was on the right side of the defensive line. It just showed you his desire to want to make that football play. And I think that's what he has done over the last three or four weeks. He's turned up his desire to make plays. That was really a game-changing play in my mind, because he wasn't going to fumble that ball unless he had an obstacle in his way and I was in awe. I really was. It was like wow. The guy continues to amaze you."
Fewell also had high praise for defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, who is second on the team with 7.0 sacks.
"I think Jonathan Hankins is really coming into his own right now," Fewell said. "He's playing with good strength and power. He's playing more snaps for us. He's playing about 35 to 45 more snaps a game and so with he and JPP working together over there, I think that they feel very comfortable in what they're doing and how they're communicating."
When Hankins was selected on the second round of the 2013 draft, it was largely for his skill at stopping the run. Fewell was asked if Hankins has exceeded expectations as a pass rusher.
"He may be surpassing what we felt," Fewell said. "He showed flashes of being able to play each position on the defensive line in his college tape. We saw flashes of him being able to have power and rush the quarterback. We didn't know how that would transfer over. We thought he was capable. He wanted the opportunity to do that and so we've been giving him the opportunity. He's telling us that he can play first, second and third down, so I think Jonathan is playing to his capability right now."
- Running back Rashad Jennings (ankle) was the only player to miss practice today. Linebacker Jameel McClain (knee) practiced fully.
Check out the best photos from Thursday's practice