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Jerry Reese in a forgiving mood about Jason Pierre-Paul's fireworks accident

New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese speaks

New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese speaks to the media during training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015. Credit: Brad Penner

Three days after team president John Mara said he didn't even know how many fingers Jason Pierre-Paul has left, questioned the advice JPP is receiving and suggested that no deal of any kind would be agreed to with the wayward defensive end until after the Giants are allowed to examine his injuries, the team's general manager tried a different approach.

Jerry Reese, the good cop.

"I wish Jason nothing but the best," Reese said Sunday in his first and only scheduled media availability of training camp. "It's a traumatic situation that he [is going through]. It was an accident. There are plenty of people who have opinions about it, but my heart goes out to him. For a young man to have a traumatic event like that in his life, it's life-changing for him. I hope and pray for the best for him."

Pierre-Paul injured his right hand in a fireworks mishap July 4. His right index finger reportedly was amputated several days later -- without a consultation with the Giants -- and he also suffered other injuries to the area, reportedly including a broken thumb. When Giants officials attempted to visit him in a South Florida hospital after his surgery, they were refused.

In the spring, the Giants placed a franchise tag on Pierre-Paul that is scheduled to pay him $14.8 million for 2015. Pierre-Paul has yet to sign that contract.

Reese did not talk about Pierre-Paul's status, the severity of his injuries, the fractured lines of communication with the team or even his future with the Giants.

"There are plenty of people already talking about it. Everybody's got an opinion about it," he said. "You can form your own opinion about it. That's my opinion about it."

Of course, Reese's opinion carries much more weight than just about anyone else's. And the one he's expressing (publicly, at least) is that of a concerned parent willing to forgive a transgression and perhaps lure Pierre-Paul back to New Jersey with some kindness and love.

"I hope for the best," Reese said. "Hopefully he's healing mentally and physically and hopefully he can be back to himself as soon as possible."

As for the state of the defensive end position without Pierre-Paul -- and the defense in general -- Reese was optimistic.

"I think we'll be really good defensively," he said of a unit that statistically was the worst in the NFL a year ago. "I think we're going to surprise people. I think we have five defensive ends that we feel like can play at a high level at that position. I think our defense is going to be a better unit than it was last year and I'm excited to see them out there playing."

Several defensive ends already have spoken in training camp about playing without their star. The Giants do not have a current player on their defensive line who has been to a Pro Bowl, and if Pierre-Paul isn't around for the start of the season, they'll be without one for the first time since 1997, when Michael Strahan finished the season going to his first.

"It's a great opportunity for them," Reese said of the remaining players, naming Damontre Moore, Kerry Wynn and rookie Owa Odighizuwa in particular. "That's what the National Football League is about. When you have an injury, somebody can step out of the shadows and do something great."

Of course, the Giants would rather have Pierre-Paul back -- physically and as a dominant player -- than gamble on finding a suitable replacement.

If that happens, Reese's remarks opened the door for a more tender, benevolent atmosphere.

But it remains up to Pierre-Paul to decide when he'll walk through it.


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