Friday, April 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sacks aren't there, but Giant and former USF Bull Jason Pierre-Paul is back in every other way

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Though his sack total isn't what it used to be, there is little doubt that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is back to being a force on the Giants' defense.

Disagree?

Just think back to the Giants' 21-20 win over the Bengals on Monday night.

Pierre-Paul had five tackles, batted down two passes and had two quarterback hurries. The former Bull was on the field for 57 of the Bengals' 58 snaps.

For the season, the 27-year-old has 38 tackles, 11/2 sacks, three tackles for losses, a team-high 11 quarterback hurries and seven passes defended, one shy of his career high in 2010, his rookie season.

There is also little talk these days about the right hand that Pierre-Paul mangled in a fireworks accident on July 4, 2015. He lost his right index finger and part of his thumb. His middle finger is mushroomed at the tip, and his ring finger is swollen.

He has overcome it, though, having a full year to prepare for this season. He played the final eight games last season but never looked comfortable.

"I think that when you play the New York Giants' defense, you have to game plan against me, and just knowing that guys are game planning against me, it is just a wonderful feeling because if they don't, bad things are going to happen," Pierre-Paul said Thursday. "Bad things are going to happen regardless, but it just makes me feel good, and I always had that confidence of just playing football no matter what.

"Even with my hand injury, I still had that mentality. You could have taken the whole thing and I would have been out there with a nub just doing it. That is just the mentality that I have got, man. That is basically it."

Not only is Pierre-Paul playing well, he is excited. The Giants (6-3) have won four in a row and are in position to challenge for their first trip to the playoffs since 2011.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said the Giants have a defense capable to taking the Giants to the Super Bowl.

Pierre-Paul didn't hesitate to agree.

"Let's slow down for a minute," he added. "Like I said, our job this year is to just get in the playoffs, take it one game at a time, and hopefully at the end of this run in the regular season, we will be in the playoffs. That is the whole goal here."

Fellow defensive end Olivier Vernon said he spoke with Pierre-Paul before signing with the Giants as a free agent.

"He never complains about anything despite everything he's had to battle," Vernon said. "He goes out there and makes plays. All you could do is respect that. He comes in the building and works hard. He works hard in practice each and every day."

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and linebacker Keenan Robinson said opponents have to account for Pierre-Paul, who been on the field for 634 of the 660 plays for which the defense has been on the field. That's 96 percent.

"I think that people feel him," Spagnuolo said of the Giants' opponents. "That's a good thing for us. When you have to worry about one guy, you can do some other things. I think he's steadily gotten more comfortable. We all realize, as you get further and further into the season, it gets really important. We want it to continue to be important."

Pierre-Paul said he is just playing football.

"You look on film and I am all over the field, man," Pierre-Paul said. "That is something that you can't coach. You have to have a heart, and nobody can give me that. I guarantee you that if you pop in the film, you will see me running to the ball more than any player. I feel that as long as I can do that, I am good."

Comments
Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

TAMPA — How good can the Bucs be in 2018? Fans will get a good sense in the first three weeks, as Tampa Bay opens the year with three of its toughest games, all against reigning division champions. The Bucs open 2018 in New Orleans on Sept. 9 ...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

TAMPA – Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle he suffered in a car accident in Louisiana last week, putting his status for the start of the season in question.Beckwith was passenger in car driven by former L...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

The 2018 NFL schedule won't be released until 8 p.m. tonight, but the Bucs' eight home games were posted early — and presumably accidentally — on the team's site, showing what would be a daunting start to the upcoming season.Multiple outl...
Published: 04/19/18
Is Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick a first-round fit for the Bucs?

Is Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick a first-round fit for the Bucs?

Minkah FitzpatrickPosition: SafetyCollege: AlabamaHeight/Weight: 6-1, 201Draft projection: First roundWhy Fitzpatrick makes sense for the BucsOne of the Bucs' biggest needs is to improve their secondary. Fitzpatrick is a playmaker, arguably the best ...
Published: 04/17/18
Jameis Winston set to make $21 million in 2019 as Bucs pick up his option

Jameis Winston set to make $21 million in 2019 as Bucs pick up his option

TAMPA — Jameis Winston is headed for a big pay day after this season, whether he gets a contract extension or not.The Bucs on Tuesday picked up the fifth-year option on Winston's rookie contract worth $20.9 million for 2019. The deal is not gua...
Published: 04/17/18
Get to know potential Bucs NFL draft target Vita Vea of Washington

Get to know potential Bucs NFL draft target Vita Vea of Washington

As next week's NFL draft nears, Bucs fans might want to learn a little more about a potential target at No. 7: Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea.The 6-foot-4, 347-pound monster moves very well for someone his size and could be an intriguing option...
Published: 04/17/18
DeSean Jackson and Jameis Winston were in perfect harmony on Day 1

DeSean Jackson and Jameis Winston were in perfect harmony on Day 1

TAMPA — DeSean Jackson and Jameis Winston were finally on the same page.For the first day of the offseason workout program, anyway.Jackson, 31, is coming off one of the worst seasons of his 10-year career with 50 catches for only 668 yards and ...
Published: 04/16/18
Jameis Winston says he has still not been interviewed in NFL probe

Jameis Winston says he has still not been interviewed in NFL probe

TAMPA — Jameis Winston was excited to be back with his teammates at One Buc Place Monday beginning the first phase of  the off-season workout program."It means everything, because it's back to football," Winston said. "It's back to that te...
Published: 04/16/18
Bucs’ Ali Marpet ready for transition to left guard

Bucs’ Ali Marpet ready for transition to left guard

Ali Marpet is on the move again, but says not to worry about his transition to left guard — his fourth offensive line position in five years — for the 2018 season."Moving from right to left is less of a transition from guard to center," M...
Published: 04/16/18
Report: Bucs’ Demar Dotson to miss summer after knee surgery

Report: Bucs’ Demar Dotson to miss summer after knee surgery

Add offensive tackle to the positions where the Bucs have a question mark, less than two weeks before the NFL draft.Starting right tackle Demar Dotson, who missed the final five games of last season with a knee injury, had surgery this past week to r...
Published: 04/15/18