Jason Pierre-Paul has not arrived at Giants training camp, but when he does his defensive line teammates believe he'll be ready to play -- even without his index finger.
"I played about five or six games in college with a ball on my hand," defensive end Robert Ayers Jr. said of a cast he wore for a broken bone at the University of Tennessee. "I'm pretty sure he can play without a finger . . . It's not the end of the world. It's something he'll have to adjust to it, but I don't imagine it stopping him from being the JPP that we've grown to see."
Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, too, played with a cast on his hand while he was with the Packers early in his career.
"Once I got past the first couple of weeks with that club, it was kind of fun," Jenkins said. "I think he'll be able to adjust."
Ayers pointed out that defensive linemen in general -- and Pierre-Paul in particular -- use plenty of other moves that do not include grabbing and the need for free fingers.
"I'm not literally trying to pick an offensive lineman up and move him," Ayers said. "I'm swiping his hands off of me, I'm clubbing him, I'm arm-over, I'm ripping. It's not just me grabbing an offensive lineman and moving him out of my way to go get the quarterback. If you really study the game and you see JPP, his best attribute is his ability to knock peoples' hands down, his quickness, his first step, his stop-and-go. He can get guys going one way, club them, and none of that is grabbing."
Tackling, of course, is another matter.
The first photos of Pierre-Paul after his fireworks accident on July 4 surfaced on Friday. They showed him with his right arm in a sling, his right hand heavily wrapped in a bandage.
Ayers said he believes that Pierre-Paul is continuing to train while he rehabs from the hand injuries.
"JPP is the type of person where, if you cut his hand off he's going to work on every other part of his body to get that better," he said. "No pun intended on the hand situation, that's just how he is. Once he's cleared to go I think he'll be ready to go . . . I have a lot of confidence that he will be a very dominant player going forward in his career."
Which is why the Giants players want him back.
"We're a group without a start player," Ayers said. "It is what it is. He's a star player but we're very capable of doing good things. You don't replace a great player, period . . . You want to have the next man up mentality, but when you are missing a link in the chain it's tough. I think we are very capable. We have guys who are hungry, myself, Damontre Moore, Kerry Wynn. Cullen Jenkins is a very versatile player. We have guys who are very capable . . . and when he comes it's going to add another weapon to our defense."