What was it like for the Giants players to finally have Jason Pierre-Paul among them?
"It's like a breath of fresh air," fellow defensive end Robert Ayers Jr. said. "It's a good day to be a Giant."
Pierre-Paul was on the field with his teammates for the first time Wednesday morning, a day after signing a one-year, incentive-heavy contract that officially reunited him with the Giants. Pierre-Paul wore what appeared to be a bulky white glove on his damaged right hand with his three remaining fingers free and not taped together. He stretched with the squad before heading off to the side to do some running and push a sled in the early stages of the workout.
He looked fast and strong. He looked slim and fit. He came in at 268 pounds, Tom Coughlin said, right where the Giants would like him to be.
Even so, he won't play on Sunday against the Saints.
"There's no intention right now for him to play on Sunday," Coughlin said. Then he quickly added: "He would like to play."
The more likely scenario is that the Giants use the full two-week roster exemption they have for him and hope he comes through the first few practices cleanly -- soft-tissue injuries have a tendency to pop up when players jump right into the rigors of a football season like this -- before suiting him up against either the Patriots in Week 10 or Washington in Week 12.
For now, Pierre-Paul will continue working more with trainers than teammates. These first few days will establish a more realistic timeline.
"How long that lasts is really according to how well they feel he's able to proceed," Coughlin said. "We'll see how fast this comes along."
But he'll be in meetings with his fellow linemen, the defense, and the entire team. And it has lifted the spirits of a team that already sits in first place in the NFC East.
"Our D-line is more complete now," defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins said. "Instead of having to answer the questions of when he'll be back, and if, and all this stuff, he is back now. He's back with the group, and now it's just a matter of waiting until he's game ready."
Jenkins said Pierre-Paul is "as fast as ever, quick as ever." Coughlin said he hopes Pierre-Paul can be "the same player" he was when he was a two-time Pro Bowler. But there are differences, even beyond his deformed hand.
"To me, he's like a new person," cornerback Prince Amukamara said. "He just seems like his perspective on life has changed a little bit and seems more focused . . . It seems like he is on a mission to accomplish his goal before everything happened."
Coughlin spoke about Pierre-Paul's excitement to be back.
"He feels it," Coughlin said. "He senses that it's close and whatever we ask him to do he can do it . . . He's anxious to go right now, to be honest with you."
Coughlin said he is even toying with the idea of bringing Pierre-Paul with the team on this week's trip to New Orleans, despite his not playing. He'd like to get him in "an environment of competitiveness." He'd probably also want him to give a little spark to a team that has often looked listless at the Superdome.
Ayers said he thinks having Pierre-Paul on the sideline would inspire the team. But, he said, the real impact will be when Pierre-Paul joins them on the field.
"He's hungry," Ayers said. "I can see that in his eye. He loves being here, but I see hunger in his eyes, and that's good, because a lot of people are probably counting him out."
"He's been busting his behind. He's waiting for the opportunity to prove a lot of people wrong and to prove to himself what he can do. I'm excited to see how things unfold."