As soon as it became clear Monday morning that Jason Pierre-Paul was coming off the physically unable to perform list, a wave of optimism started to flow through Giants camp.
"We're looking for miraculous things out of JPP," safety Antrel Rolle said.
"Up front, I think we have the ability to take this to the Super Bowl," defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said.
It was left to JPP himself to remind everyone that he can't carry the Giants on his back yet. Not when Monday was his first practice since offseason back surgery. And don't even ask Pierre-Paul if he thinks he'll be able to play in the season opener in Dallas on Sept. 8.
"There's nothing to be said about if I'm going to play come the opener or not," he said. "Just taking it day by day."
Still, there is no mistaking what it means to the Giants for JPP to have come off the PUP list. The initial reaction is that it's very, very good news for the team in a preseason that has been pockmarked by injuries and poor offensive performance.
"I'm off PUP and that's a good thing," Pierre-Paul said. "I'm just going to go out there and test it out and see how it is."
Said coach Tom Coughlin: "Get him going. Get him out there. Get him running around. He's just going to do individuals for now, but it won't be long."
Pierre-Paul said there is no chance he will play in Thursday's preseason finale against the Patriots. The Giants have one more practice before that game and will have a full week next week to prepare for the opener. That's when Pierre-Paul's readiness "for Week 1 or whenever," as Rolle put it, will be evaluated.
"I don't have no goal," Pierre-Paul said. "I'm taking it day by day and that's all I can do. I'm not trying to rush. A back is a serious thing. Back surgery is a serious thing. You can't try to come too early. You'll mess it up even more so."
If Pierre-Paul had stayed on the PUP list through Saturday, he would have had to miss the first six games of the season. Now the Giants can contemplate what it would mean to have him for some, most or all of those games. Pierre-Paul had 161/2 sacks two years ago but only 61/2 last season.
"He's our best defensive playmaker. Hands down," Rolle said. "I think he shows it week in and week out. With him having the surgery and trying to get him back to tip-top shape and tip-top form, hopefully we're going to see a performance that he's never, ever shown us."
Pierre-Paul said he is not feeling the kind of pain he did before surgery, just some normal soreness.
"That pain is all gone," he said. "At times it can get sore, but that's a regular thing. That's not uncommon. I feel pretty good about it."
One pain Pierre-Paul has been dealing with is the kind that comes with not being able to join his teammates on the field. That ended Monday.
"As a player, it's hard to watch," he said. "Your players go out there and you're not in a position to [play]. Especially the preseason games -- it just gives me a headache, going out there and seeing them playing."