The JPP Express continues on its way to Tampa Bay. The Giants hope it's non-stop service.
Jason Pierre-Paul continued to advance in his practice regimen on Wednesday and the team hopes he can make his 2015 debut on Sunday, just a week after the team's defense had one of the worst performances in franchise history.
"No," Tom Coughlin said to the obvious question of whether Pierre-Paul's seemingly accelerated path to the field has anything to do with the defensive woes of the Giants. "It has to do with him, whether he's ready or not. If he's ready, we'll play him. If he's not ready, then we'll take more time."
Pierre-Paul was on the field with the scout team last Thursday, his first practice with the team. He worked in pads while the rest of the team focused on game-related practices on Saturday and Monday. On Wednesday, he was scheduled to take reps on both the scout team and the regular defense, a huge step that signals his role in the gameplan for the Bucs.
Coughlin said he is not surprised by Pierre-Paul's progress since signing his contract a week ago.
"I don't care about anybody else, it's the individual," Coughlin said. "He's in outstanding physical condition. We knew that. We tried that right away . We're feeling good about accelerating him along. There's nothing unusual about a guy who is in his position and is in the condition that he's in and prepares himself to play. That's what he's done."
It's a combination of the hand injury plus the conditioning that has to be measured in judging JPP, Coughlin said. The conditioning can be improved over time. The hand injury? It won't get better, although Pierre-Paul's techniques that he can use to compensate for it will certainly evolve.
"All that has been told to me, all the preparation has gone on to make sure that he has a glove that helps him in that regard," Coughlin said.
If Pierre-Paul is to play, the Giants need to add him to the active roster by 4 p.m. on Saturday. That's when we'll have the clearest picture of his availability this week. Until then, Bucs coach Lovie Smith said he'll assume that Pierre-Paul will be on the field.
"He's one of the best defensive players in the league when he's played," Smith said.
Last week, Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said if he had to face a player in Pierre-Paul's situation, he would test him early. Smith shied away from any specifics in that regard, but he did seem to indicate that they will want to see what Pierre-Paul's capabilities are if and when he is on the field.
"We have a plan to attack most positions, I would say," Smith said.