Jason Pierre-Paul did not practice on Wednesday.
Alarming? Hardly. The Giants hope it’s actually a good thing.
He is, after all, a player who has not appeared in 16 games in a season since 2014, a year that also marked his only season in which he started all 16 games. His tenure with the Giants has been filled with Pro Bowl seasons and a Super Bowl title, sacks and interceptions and batted passes. But also too much time on the sideline from back, hand and, most recently, core muscle injuries. He’s still only 28, but the game (and a misadventure with fireworks) clearly has taken a toll on his body.
To help combat those missed games, the Giants are pacing Pierre-Paul this summer. Will a day off in August really help him be on the field in December?
Pierre-Paul thinks so.
“The main thing for me is to stay healthy and I feel like what Coach did today was a big help,” the defensive end said.
It may seem counterintuitive to have one of the top defensive players on the sideline so early in training camp. Wednesday was only the Giants’ second day of practicing in shoulder pads and their first day in full pads.
Ben McAdoo, though, said at the start of camp that he would be monitoring and limiting the snaps of some of his veterans to get them to the season in the best possible condition. Most attached that comment to Eli Manning, the 36-year-old quarterback. But it turned out that Pierre-Paul was the first to get a day of rest.
“After studying the information and the data and the history of the player, I thought it was best for JPP to take a day to do some rehab to get ready to go tomorrow,” McAdoo said. “He needed today off.”
So Pierre-Paul obliged. He stretched with the team, did some conditioning on the side, and watched as the rest of the players went through a two-hour workout. At one point he was seen chatting with defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
“Just learning the game, going over calls,” Pierre-Paul said. “Even though I know the calls, sometimes a call is called and I am just thinking about a whole bunch of stuff, so I was just shooting back the calls to him. That’s something I do on a regular basis, but I just do it better with Spags.”
Pierre-Paul was on the verge of reaching 16 games — while playing virtually every snap — last season before he suffered the core muscle injury that required surgery in Week 13 against the Steelers. He missed the final four games plus the playoff game against the Packers. His absence, due to his play and the volume of snaps he was eating up, was noticeable.
The Giants spoke this offseason about reducing that in-game workload after they invested $62 million in him with a four-year contract. Now they are showing they are serious about reducing his practice time as well, with the goal of having a fully functioning Pierre-Paul for a full season.
“It’s our job to make sure we take a look at the big picture,” McAdoo said of the decision to rest Pierre-Paul, or anyone else who needs it.
As long as it helps, Pierre-Paul said he’s fine with taking an occasional day off.
“I’ve got a lot of personal goals for this year,” he said. “My first goal this year is to just stay healthy.”