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Jason Pierre-Paul's body is holding him back

Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul holds a towel

Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul holds a towel around his neck during training camp held at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. (July 27, 2013) Credit: James Escher

For most of Jason Pierre-Paul's career, he has relied on his physical abilities to make plays while his mental acumen was trying to catch up. Being relatively new to the sport, and with only a half season of major college experience before the Giants drafted him, he was able to use his athleticism to overcome any lack of in-depth knowledge about techniques and details.

This year, though, it's the other way around. Coming off back surgery in the spring, Pierre-Paul is struggling with the one aspect of his game that had been his forte.

"It's more physical," Pierre-Paul said Wednesday of what is holding him back through two weeks. "My body is not reacting to my mind."

It's not something that is unexpected. Pierre-Paul did not play at all in the preseason and only began practicing with the team about a week before the opener. Through two games he has one sack (leading the team, more an indictment on everyone else) and six tackles.

"I didn't expect me to jump out and have a good game right away," Pierre-Paul said. "I knew right when I came off back surgery that it's not going to be old JPP, two sacks, three sacks. No, it's going to take time for me to get back in the game plan, in game mode, and for the quarterbacks to actually fear me."

Rivera likes running game

Many Giants players and coaches have said in recent days that the abysmal running game is very close to being corrected. Oddly enough, Panthers coach Ron Rivera shares their optimism.

"I think they're on the verge of a breakout," Rivera said. "I think they've got a solid running attack."

The Giants are actually last in the league in rushing, averaging 36.5 yards per game, and coming off their worst back-to-back rushing games since 1954.

Giant steps

Tom Coughlin's younger brother John passed away unexpectedly on Monday and several players noted that the best way for them to help their coach heal would be with a win. "We're all family here," Antrel Rolle said. "If coach has a loss, we all deal with a loss . . . There's no better time than now to go get a win and just lift his spirits up, as well as ours." . . . The Giants had only two players on their injury report -- David Diehl (thumb) and Adrien Robinson (foot) -- while the Panthers had nine players miss practice Wednesday, including three cornerbacks and both starting safeties. "I hope it helps," Coughlin said of the health advantage. "I hope it pays off." . . . Rookie DE Damontre Moore said he could provide a spark to the Giants' pass rush. "Whenever my time comes, I'm just going to make sure I'm ready and I give it my all and leave it all out there on the field," he said.

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