EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It might be time to stop worrying about New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
Pierre-Paul is showing signs that the back and shoulder injuries that slowed him last season are behind him and that he’s ready to make life miserable for NFL quarterbacks.
In 2011, Pierre-Paul recorded 16 1-2 sacks in his second season to help the Giants win their second Super Bowl in five seasons.
It’s been downhill since.
"JPP" had 6 1-2 sacks in 2012 and he was limited to two in 11 games last season, spending the final month on the sidelines.
After a quiet performance in the Hall of Fame game earlier this month, Pierre-Paul created a buzz against the Steelers this past weekend with three solo tackles, an assist and a big hurry and hit on Pittsburgh quarterback Bruce Gradkowski in the first quarter.
It was like old times. The 25-year-old was a force again with his speed, strength and sheer athletic ability.
"Fun has always been in football for me," Pierre-Paul said Monday. "It never left. Being injured, nobody wants to be injured. It comes with the game. You never know when you’re going to be injured. You have to fight through it. You go out there and play. If you can’t, you can’t."
Pierre-Paul didn’t have much fun last season. He had back surgery before the season and he never seemed to be 100 percent for the second straight season. His last start was on Nov.10. He came off the bench the next two game and then was inactive for the last five.
"I’m back now, so the only thing that can stop me from being me is me .
Heading into the 2014, Pierre-Paul isn’t broadcasting his goals. He obviously would like to help the Giants get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2011. He is being quiet on the individual stuff.
"I’m trying to be better than that 2011-2012 year," Pierre-Paul said. "Each year is a year for you to get better so that’s what I’m trying to do."
Pierre-Paul said it’s hard to judge anything based on training camp and preseason games because it’s not game conditions. Players rarely get into a rhythm in preseason games because they only play a few series, and practices are held in a controlled situation.
"Don’t get me wrong, you have something to play for but you really don’t, you know," he said. "Guys are not trying to get hurt but the last thing when you’re on that football field, you don’t think about that. You just play the game. It’s all preseason. I know, guys, it matters or whatever. Really is doesn’t. I know for a fact when it’s time to buckle down and get ready to play Detroit on Monday night, we’re going to be ready to go."
The Giants are going to need the old Pierre-Paul after losing defensive end Justin Tuck and defensive tackle Linval Joseph to free agency. Veteran Mathias Kiwanuka has stepped into Tuck’s spot on the line and either Mike Patterson, who is sidelined with a shoulder injury, or second-year pro Johnathan Hankins will take over the tackle.
NOTES: WR Victor Cruz, who has yet to catch a pass in the preseason, did not practice. He had surgery on his left knee in December and the team indicated he was given a day off to rest it. Also not practicing Monday were FB John Conner (concussion), TE Xavier Grimble (hamstring), WR Marcus Harris (hip), RB Peyton Hillis (foot), WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring), CB Jayron Hosley (foot) and WR Jerrel Jernigan (knee). ...WR Rueben Randle made a sprinting one-handed catch on a deep pass between defenders Prince Amukamara and Stevie Brown. Minutes later, he tipped an Eli Manning pass into the hands of safety Antrel Rolle. ...Rookie free agent WR Corey Washington, who has TD catches in each of the first two preseason games, made three good catches Monday, and is the find of camp.