John Mara had a succinct message for Jason Pierre-Paul.
"Come home. We miss you."
That's what the Giants' president said on Thursday as the team opened training camp without its best defensive player. Pierre-Paul remains in South Florida recovering from a fireworks mishap on July 4 that cost him his right index finger and further damage on his right hand. Pierre-Paul is not under contract with the Giants, but the team placed the franchise tag on him in the spring. He has not signed his $14.8- million tender.
The Giants have had plenty of holdouts and injuries at the start of training camps over the years, but Mara said he cannot recall a situation like this. Communication between Pierre-Paul and the Giants has been minimal. The team has not been allowed to examine Pierre-Paul's injuries, and Mara said the only information the Giants have received has come through media reports.
"We don't know how extensive the damage is, that's the problem," Mara said. "I don't know how many fingers he has."
Nor does Mara know when Pierre-Paul will arrive at Giants camp.
"I think we have to plan on moving ahead without him at this point," Mara said. "Until we see him and make some sort of determination as to what condition he is in, I don't see how we can count on him. Certainly not for the opening of the season."
That reality began to sink in on Thursday.
"It just hit me that we're going into camp without our cornerstone guy," cornerback Prince Amukamara said. "It's almost similar to if we were going into camp without Eli. It's definitely tough. But there's not much you can do besides just support him and wait for his homecoming."
Not everyone is as patient.
"It's hard to believe that he couldn't get here and take care of an awful lot of issues rather than what they're doing," coach Tom Coughlin said, adding that his texts to Pierre-Paul have gone unanswered. "Hey, we're all concerned about the young man first and foremost. But it's difficult to extend this concern when we feel like he should be here."
As for the franchise tag and contract, Mara said everything is off the table until the Giants' medical staff can examine Pierre-Paul. Mara did say that he would be open to negotiating the terms of the franchise tag, including the non-football injury option the Giants have that could reduce Pierre-Paul's salary.
"We'd be open to discussing anything," Mara said. "But we first need to see him."
Mara reiterated comments from earlier in the week, when he said Pierre-Paul is receiving poor advice from his management team. He again said Pierre-Paul would be better served availing himself of the medical experts at the Giants' disposal.
"I'm disappointed that he's not here," Mara said. "I think this would be the best place for him to be for a number of different reasons . . . I think it would be in his own best interest to be here. I don't think he's receiving the best advice in the world. That's sad as far as I'm concerned."