Tom Coughlin said there is a chance Jason Pierre-Paul will play this week against the Bucs.
"If he practices and continues to advance the way he has over last few days and we feel good about where he is physically, that would be a decision we would be confident in making," Coughlin said on a conference call on Monday.
Pierre-Paul's physical readiness seems to have shocked the Giants and - along with allowing 52 points and 511 passing yards to a virtually untouched Drew Brees - spurred the earlier ETA for JPP. Pierre-Paul signed his one-year contract last week, and the Giants were given a two-week roster exemption to get him back into football shape. They hoped to have him available for the Patriots game in Week 10 or the game in Washington after the bye. Instead, he may be ready to roll this Sunday.
Coughlin said Pierre-Paul has been practicing in pads while the rest of the team was not in an effort to get him used to equipment he has not worn since the end of last season. With two full practices this week, Coughlin said the Giants would continue to "push the envelope" in Pierre-Paul's reps.
"We'll increase everything," he said, calling it "the continuation of developing his conditioning in uniform."
While Coughlin sounded optimistic, it's still only a definitely maybe that Pierre-Paul can return this week. He'll have to continue to show the kind of bounds of progress he did last week and also refine parts of his game such as hand placements and techniques. But clearly the Giants' defense needs a jolt, and JPP might be able to provide it.
"When you have somebody who you know at any point can get a strip-sack, or could hit the quarterback, make a tackle for a loss at any time in the game, whenever you have a player like that, that impacts the game in so many ways," safety Brandon Meriweather said. "It gives other D-linemen one-on-ones, gives the quarterback the anticipation that he has to throw the ball a lot quicker than he does, so I'm excited. I just can't wait to see him play."
Eli Manning was also in anticipation mode.
"He looked good in practice this past week, running the scout team defensive end and going against our guys," Manning said. "He's going full-speed and trying to get back in playing shape. I'm excited when he can get back and see if he generates some big plays for us on the defensive side."
After the most recent performance, that's certainly needed.