It's safe to say Jimmy Clausen wishes the Giants had made a different choice. The Carolina quarterback was sacked twice by Pierre-Paul in the first quarter of the Panthers' 20-10 victory over the Giants in a preseason game Saturday night in Bank of America Stadium. Pierre-Paul, who started at right end, had four tackles (three solo) in his short stint on the field.
"I thought I played pretty good," Pierre-Paul said. "I knew what I was supposed to do and I was just out there executing. I came out, and I wasn't nervous. I knew the play calls, and I caught on very well. I just felt good. It felt very good. I knew what I was doing. (The first real contact) felt real good. Just to see where our conditioning was. Probably need to work on a little more running."
Pierre-Paul's performance certainly was one of the few positives Coach Tom Coughlin found in his initial evaluation of the game.
"Jason did a heck of a job," Coughlin said. "He was very physical. He had the two sacks and just missed on another one. (He) was a penetrator, he was a force. He really enjoyed playing and I thought he gave us a real spark."
As a rookie, Pierre-Paul played in all 16 games as a reserve and on special teams and finished the season with 4.5 sacks, the most by a Giants rookie since Cornelius Griffin had 5.0 in 2000. He had two sacks vs. Jacksonville on Nov. 28 and two against Washington the following week to become the first rookie in Giants history with at least two sacks in consecutive games.
Those are impressive achievements for a player with just one year of major college football experience after stops at two junior colleges. Pierre-Paul's first NFL season was one of intense learning of both the Giants' defense and what is required to succeed in the NFL.
"It was a major thing for him," Coughlin said, "because of the newness of the language, the fact that he hadn't had a great deal of experience – it was all new to him last year."
Pierre-Paul has worked with the first team in training camp. On Monday, Osi Umenyiora, the two-time Pro Bowler who started every game at right end last season, will reportedly practice for the first time. If so, what does that mean for Pierre-Paul?
"I don't know," he said. "It's up to the coaches. I'm going out there and (doing) whatever the coaches want. If they want me to be on the second team, I'm going to do it for the team.
"I'd love for Osi to come back. That's more defensive line pressure."
*Coughlin said the new-look offensive line, with center David Baas, has work to do to achieve the communication and consistency the coach craves.
"We had some errors, there isn't any doubt," Coughlin said. "One play we checked to a draw and no one blocked the inside backer. We're fighting our way through some things in terms of communication. We have a new center in there and he has a way to go."
The linemen are convinced they'll have the kinks eliminated in a short time.
"In the first one, you really want to communicate," guard David Diehl said. "You want to get on the same page. It's good to get some short yardage situations. You want to have scoring drives and get some first downs. Unfortunately, we didn't do that (Saturday). We've got a lot to learn, but we've got some good film now to study to really see the things we need to improve on going into next week."
*Although the result was disappointing, many of the players were thrilled just to be in uniform and playing a game. They missed the on-field work and interaction with their teammates in the spring because of the lockout.
"It felt great to be back out there," said linebacker Michael Boley, who scored the Giants' lone touchdown on an early interception return. "It's been a long offseason. We've been beating up on ourselves for two weeks, so it was actually good to go out and hit someone else and experience the live action."
"It was good to get back out here and get into a game situation," Diehl said. "We've been butting heads with our own team for the last couple weeks. Even though you practice hard, and we've had some great practices, you can't ever simulate the speed of the game. It's great to get out here and get the pads hitting, getting some plays in. It's great to get the first game out of the way."
*The Giants' starting lineups:
Offense: QB Eli Manning, RB Ahmad Bradshaw, FB Bear Pascoe, WRs Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham, TE Jake Ballard, LT Will Beatty, LG David Diehl, C David Baas, RG Chris Snee and RT Kareem McKenzie.
Defense: LE Justin Tuck, LT Linval Joseph, RT Chris Canty, RE Jason Pierre-Paul, SLB Mathias Kiwanuka, MLB Jonathan Goff, WLB Michael Boley, LCB Corey Webster, RCB Terrell Thomas, SS Kenny Phillips, FS Antrel Rolle.
*The Giants game captains were Jonathan Goff and Kevin Boothe.
*In the first nickel defense, Aaron Ross played right corner and Terrell Thomas moved into the slot. On the first play in that configuration, Boley intercepted Clausen and scored. Ross played the nickel back on the second team defense.
*First-year quarterback Ryan Perrilloux played the final three series and completed five of nine passes for 67 yards, including a game-long 37-yarder to Domenik Hixon.
*Rookie safety Tyler Sash led the Giants with four solo tackles.
*The following players did not suit up for the game: cornerback Prince Amukamara (foot), tight end Travis Beckum (hamstring), linebacker Clint Sintim (knee), cornerback Joe Burnett (hamstring), wide receiver Sam Giguere (groin), center Jim Cordle (knee), safety Brian Jackson (back) and defensive end Osi (knee). All but Burnett are expected to practice Monday.
*Carolina played without several frontline players, including defensive end Charles Johnson, tackle Jeff Otah, wide receivers Steve Smith and David Gettis (who is out for the season with a torn ACL), linebackers Jon Beason and Thomas Davis, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and several reserves.
*Former Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey started, but did not catch a pass, for the Panthers.
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