Jason Pierre-Paul is back!
Well, sort of.
The defensive end made his first appearance at a Giants practice since his sports hernia surgery in early December on Wednesday, sauntering into the fieldhouse while the rest of the team was in the early stages of its workout. Pierre-Paul was wearing a practice jersey but no pads or cleats, so he is not yet ready to participate in football activities. But his presence alone seemed to inspire his teammates.
He exchanged happy hugs and handshakes with the defensive linemen, shared a few playful pushes with defensive tackle Damon Harrison, and even wrestled a bit with fellow defensive end Olivier Vernon.
“It was just nice to see him,” defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins said after practice.
“He likes to pop in and out now and again,” defensive end Jay Bromley said of Pierre-Paul, who had been around the team the past few weeks but made his first practice-field appearance with them on Wednesday. “It’s cool him being out there . . . That’s your brother. You love to see him come by. He comes by for Thanksgiving, you’re going to greet him and love him.”
It’s unlikely Pierre-Paul will be able to play on Sunday in the wild-card game in Green Bay, but the Giants have always been hopeful that he could return for a divisional-round game if they advanced that far. He is four weeks removed from a surgery that was said to have a recovery period of four to six weeks.
“He enjoys being around the guys,” coach Ben McAdoo said of Pierre-Paul. “He’s a big part of this football team whether he can dress out or not. As soon as he is ready to come back physically, medically, we’ll take it from there.”
One thing Pierre-Paul did add to practice on Wednesday was some words of advice for his replacements: rookie Romeo Okwara, second-year player Owa Odighizuwa and third-year player Kerry Wynn.
“It was nice having him on the sideline coaching me up,” said Okwara, who has become the starter. “He was watching me and giving me some pointers. It was much-needed.”
Pierre-Paul was the only Giants player not participating in the practice. Tight end Jerell Adams (shoulder), safety Nat Berhe (concussion), cornerback Janoris Jenkins (back), Odighizuwa (hamstring) and cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (ankle) were all limited. Right tackle Bobby Hart (forearm) practiced fully.