After the 2015 Fourth of July fireworks accident that mangled his right hand, it was no certainty that New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul would ever play football again. After repairing his relationship with the Giants and more importantly, healing from surgeries and learning to exist with fewer digits, he made it back late in the season.
This year, he's re-established himself as a dominant defender for a vastly improved Giants defense that's managed to hold late leads and clamp down when the intermittently stagnant Giants offense has faltered.
Were there ever any doubt for the 27-year-old?
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"You could have taken the whole thing off," Pierre-Paul said after practice on Thursday, via Newsday's Bob Glauber. "I'd have been out there with a nub. That's just the mentality that I've got."
Pierre-Paul became a free agent at the end of last season and signed a one-year, $10 million contract with Blue Blue, to some extent betting on himself to return to form and a bigger payday in the future.
The sack totals (1.5) aren't there for him (yet) but he's 5th in the NFL in hurries (19), trailing only the Rams' Aaron Donald (24), Brandon Graham of Philadelphia (21), reigning Super Bowl MVP Von Miller (21) and the Bengals' Geno Atkins (20).
So he's been quite disruptive as a pass rusher as well as in the running game. The Giants rank 12th against the run in DVOA, allowing just 92.1 rushing yards per game, good for 7th in the league.
"Just knowing that teams have to game plan against me, it's a wonderful feeling," Pierre-Paul said. "If they don't, bad things are going to happen."
The Chicago Bears, the Giants' opponent on Sunday, have been warned.