Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pierre-Paul Primed for Big Season

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pierre-Paul Primed for Big Season

Article excerpt

EAST RUTHERFORD - Jason Pierre-Paul is promising he's got his groove back.

He says he is not thinking about his back and not worried about whether he will be back with the Giants next season, considering his rookie contract is set to expire in 2015.

After missing all of training camp last summer following back surgery, Pierre-Paul spoke to the media for the first time this camp and declared without hesitation Thursday: "I'm awesome. I'm at 110 percent."

Then asked by a reporter where the extra 10 percent came from, he replied with a smirk: "My mind."

With all the attention paid to injuries to Pierre-Paul's lower back and shoulder, both of which sapped the power from his once- dominant game, there in lies the secret: his mind.

As much as those physical ailments factored in his disappointing play, the mental game also contributed mightily to the detriment of the former All-Pro defensive end last season.

Pierre-Paul now admits he was not ready physically three months following back surgery, but rushed back for the season-opening loss in Dallas because "the team needed me."

The 25-year-old spoke in circles often during last year's injury- riddled season, expressing frustration that he would not be the same player until this season, only to follow that up later in the same interview with a half-hearted guarantee of how he would be.

If Pierre-Paul's mood with reporters Thursday is any indication, the Giants might again see the player who drew comparisons - however premature they were -- to Pro Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor with the way he could change games.

"We want him to be the very best that he can be," coach Tom Coughlin said. "And I'm glad he's in that frame of mind and feels good about himself. We're looking forward to a very, very good year from JPP."

The Giants need Pierre-Paul to rebound the way they do Eli Manning on the other side of the ball. Pierre-Paul said he has not been this healthy since the end of the 2012 season and has lost weight -- listed at 278 pounds on the roster - although he believes his play was unaffected by the added bulk on his 6-foot-5 frame. …

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