After playing him just about every defensive snap this season, the Giants may be forced to replace Jason Pierre-Paul. At least to some degree.
The defensive end missed Wednesday’s practice with a groin injury. It’s too soon to say whether this will rule him out for Sunday’s game against the Ravens, but it’s certainly alarming for a defense that has leaned so heavily on him in terms of playing time.
“We’ll see how he goes,” Ben McAdoo said. “We’ll be smart with him. We’ll take it slow.”
Backing up JPP are rookie Romeo Okwara, Kerry Wynn and Owa Odighizuwa, who among them have 156 defensive snaps this season. Pierre-Paul has been on the field for 351 out of a total of 365 defensive plays. Olivier Vernon has played 340 snaps.
“They have great guys in there playing 98 percent of the snaps for a reason,” Okwara said. “They’re really athletic, real ly talented guys, and it’s a great opportunity to learn behind them.”
Now, though, could be an opportunity to spell them.
“Hopefully, he gets back and is healthy and ready to go,” Wynn said of Pierre-Paul. “I think everybody in that room is confident when their name is called that they’ll be ready.”
“You have to be ready all the time, but he might be back tomorrow,” Okwara said. “I don’t know the situation. But I know when my name is called, I’m going to be ready.”
The Giants did start resting Pierre-Paul a bit Sunday night against the Packers, when he sat out nine plays, more than he had in the previous four games combined. His snap count had become an issue the Giants wanted to address even before this groin injury.
“They come to work every day,” McAdoo said of the seldom-used backup defensive ends. “Fundamentally, they’re improving tremendously. They get a lot of reps at practice and they’re improving.”
Sitting and waiting on game days, though, must make it difficult to remain sharp.
“I make the most out of the opportunities I get and prepare during the week like I’m playing in the game,” Okwara said.
Added Wynn on the dynamic: “It is what it is. You control what you can control and when you get in there, you make the best of it.”
Okwara said he isn’t sure how much he’ll get to play on Sunday, or if the Giants plan to increase his workload as the season moves along. “But,” he said, “I’ll be ready for it if they do.”