EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo didn't want to spend much time talking about the 52 points his unit gave up against the New Orleans Saints.
It was the most points allowed by the Giants since 1966, in a 72-41 loss to Washington. The Saints' Drew Brees threw a career-best seven touchdowns to tie the NFL single-game mark. New Orleans gained 608 yards and had the ball almost 35 minutes in the wild 52-49 win.
It was ugly. Spagnuolo addressed it with his unit Monday, and it hurt. It was as bad as it gets for a defense.
And when he met with the media Thursday, Spagnuolo was ready.
''Let's talk about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,'' he quipped, drawing some laughs.
Spagnuolo was serious, to a degree. He talked about the defense's performance for a minute or two, but his focus is on the improving Bucs (3-4), the team New York (4-4) needs to beat to stay in first place in the NFC East.
The Saints game was history. Brees was hot and the defense was not.
''We're beyond it now, you have to, you have to let it go'' Spagnuolo said. ''You can't be looking in the rear-view mirror, you go backward.''
The future is somewhat exciting for `'Spags.'' This could be the week that two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul plays for the first time since losing a finger in a fireworks accident this summer.
The 26-year-old has practiced the past two weeks and Spagnuolo says ''he looks pretty good.''
''I just got done watching the tape and I remember one play, the ball was snapped and he came off the ball pretty good, so his takeoff looks good,'' Spagnuolo said, adding it's hard for a player to miss that much time and be at his best.
Team medical personnel will decide whether Pierre-Paul plays Sunday, but it seems there is a solid chance that No. 90 will be on the field.
Pierre-Paul said he was ready on Wednesday.
If Pierre-Paul is ready, Spagnuolo refused to say whether he would be used in certain situations, such as rushing the passer. Pierre-Paul led New York with 12 1/2 sacks last season; the Giants have a league-low nine in 2015.
''We'll try to be smart,'' Spagnuolo said.
Spagnuolo has never coached Pierre-Paul. He has seen the highlights of his career, but he does not know what to expect of a guy playing with a mangled right hand.
Pierre-Paul wore what looked like a boxing glove on the hand at practice on Thursday. He had a regular glove the day before.
''The look in his eye, I could tell he's ready to go, why would he not be?'' Spagnuolo said. ''He's been away from something he loves and he's getting to play it again. So he's anxious, I think we're all anxious. Hopefully if we can get him to the point where everybody feels comfortable ...''
While he hopes JPP can help the pass rush, Spagnuolo isn't putting pressure on him to be the savior for the unit, especially without having had any preseason games or even a minor-league rehab like baseball players coming off an injury.
''There's going to be an adjustment period,'' Spagnuolo said. ''We don't do any live football. A baseball player gets to hit off a pitcher, like you're saying; we don't get that. Hey, maybe we have to live with some growing pains, so to speak, in hopes that when it's all said and done, it makes a big difference.''
The task for the defense this week will be to improve, with or without Pierre-Paul.
''You learn because you saw what you did wrong and you get that corrected,'' defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said. ''That's the first step. After that, we need to move along and say: `This is not us. This is not what we are about.' That was the worst game I've been a part of since I have been here, and that's not us. We know we are way better than that.''
Having Pierre-Paul in the lineup should help,
NOTES: LBs Jon Beason and J.T. Thomas and TE Larry Donnell missed practice for the second straight day. ... Safety Craig Dahl, receiver Rueben Randle and guard Geoff Schwartz returned to practice on a limited basis. ... Receiver Victor Cruz ran for the first time since aggravating his calf problem in late September. ... Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Koji Uehara was in the locker room after practice.
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