Tuesday, August 14, 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
Brent Grimes happy to be back, healthy at Bucs practice

Brent Grimes happy to be back, healthy at Bucs practice

Veteran cornerback Brent Grimes had returned to practice in a limited capacity Saturday, but Monday saw him back in 11-on-11 full-squad work for the first time in nearly two weeks."We want Brent Grimes out there. He's our best cover guy, so it's grea...
Published: 08/13/18

Madden 19 predictions: The Bucs are bad, the Browns are good and the world might be ending

You thought the Buccaneers’ playoff drought was going to end last season. Instead, they lost six of their first eight games and limped to a 5-11 finish.If only someone or something had warned you.Actually, something did.A video game.While every...
Published: 08/13/18
Even bigger: Bucs TE Antony Auclair up to 270 for 2nd NFL season

Even bigger: Bucs TE Antony Auclair up to 270 for 2nd NFL season

A year ago, when Antony Auclair made the Bucs' roster as an undrafted rookie, the Canadian import was already the largest tight end at 6-foot-6 and 256 pounds.That's even more the case now as he heads into his second season with the confidence that c...
Published: 08/13/18
Peyton Barber has edge on starting RB job over Ronald Jones

Peyton Barber has edge on starting RB job over Ronald Jones

It's still too early in the preseason to declare a starter at some positions, but Bucs coach Dirk Koetter took a step in that that direction Monday at running back.After an underwhelming performance by rookie Ronald Jones in the preseason opener at M...
Published: 08/13/18
Koetter on Bucs’ practice fight: ‘Big deal. I mean, it’s football’

Koetter on Bucs’ practice fight: ‘Big deal. I mean, it’s football’

One day after a video showed an extended fight at Jaguars practice, and two days before the Bucs start joint practices with the Titans, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said he wasn't worried about a minor late-practice skirmish between players."We had a figh...
Published: 08/13/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Is Bucs’ QB depth the best in franchise history?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Is Bucs’ QB depth the best in franchise history?

Do the Bucs have the best trio of quarterbacks they have ever had? What does Vernon Hargreaves' injury mean for the secondary? How did Tampa Bay's running backs fare in the preseason opener? Rick Stroud answers these questions and more on today'...
Published: 08/13/18
Alan Cross may not look like a typical NFL tight end, but there’s nothing he can’t do on the football field

Alan Cross may not look like a typical NFL tight end, but there’s nothing he can’t do on the football field

TAMPA — Alan Cross always has been the boy on the bubble. A linebacker in high school, he walked on to his college team, Memphis, as a long snapper. He had no scholarship offers. Hugh Freeze, then head coach at Arkansas State, told Cr...
Published: 08/12/18
Bucs claim cornerback De’Vante Harris from Saints

Bucs claim cornerback De’Vante Harris from Saints

The Bucs got help for their injury-depleted secondary on Sunday, claiming third-year cornerback De'Vante Harris off waivers from the Saints.Tampa Bay has veteran Brent Grimes just returning from injury and Vernon Hargreaves and Javien Elliott dealing...
Published: 08/12/18
Unheralded receivers stepped up for Bucs on game-winning drive

Unheralded receivers stepped up for Bucs on game-winning drive

TAMPA — The Bucs' come-from-behind finish Thursday night, going 67 yards with no time outs in the final two minutes to set up a game-winning field goal, would be impressive under most any circumstances.Add in the chaos of the end of a preseason...
Published: 08/12/18
DeSean Jackson is having “an excellent camp” and asserting himself as a leader, coach Dirk Koetter says

DeSean Jackson is having “an excellent camp” and asserting himself as a leader, coach Dirk Koetter says

DeSean Jackson had a disappointing first season with the Bucs by almost any measure.In 2017, Jackson's 50 catches for 668 yards were career-lows in seasons in which he played at least 12 games.  His 13.4 yard average was a career-worst.Certainly...
Published: 08/12/18