NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 1:40 AM
He won’t have that big cumbersome club on his right hand next season. But Jason Pierre-Paul will have a strong grip, and a renewed focus in 2016.
It was a motivated, focused JPP who spoke to the media via conference call on Tuesday, one week after signing a one-year deal with the Giants, talking once again about playing without the massive cast that protected his hand but hindered his play last season — and talking excitedly about how his hand is progressing.
Pierre-Paul reiterated that he won’t need the club to protect his mangled right hand anymore. Weeks after his latest surgery, he can open and close his hand, he said.
“I’m capable of lifting weights and closing and gripping,” he said. “It turned out pretty well . . . I’m doing everything possible to get my hand in the best position to play football.”
He’ll show off his progress at the start of the Giants’ offseason program, which begins next month. And he’s done his best to show everyone proof of his newfound hand strength this month, posting several training videos to his Instagram account. The videos show him finally using his hand, bending and gripping it around bars, even bench-pressing.
Last summer, he needed a towel to keep the weight steady; in the new videos, he doesn’t move more than 225 pounds, but he also doesn’t need any assistance, either.
“I’m not going to use the club next year,” he said.
The big defensive end didn’t reveal how he plans to protect the hand next season, saying only that everyone would have to “wait and see.” But the Giants will get a read on his progress during OTAs next month, which JPP promised to attend. “I’m expecting to be there and I’ll be on time and everything,” Pierre-Paul said Tuesday. “As of right now, I plan on being there and showing my face and being with the team on April 11 (when the OTA program opens).”
“I am just excited that I have a chance to play football man,” he added. “Do what I love to do, come back to New York and play one year and show the fans and show everyone in the organization that Jason Pierre-Paul can still play some ball.”
Pierre-Paul knows he has plenty to prove, and he hinted that that was a key reason he chose to return to East Rutherford in the first place. He chose the Giants over the Arizona Cardinals last week. The move sets him up to play in a familiar defense, to spend one year showing the league that he’s still a capable defensive end, then cashing in in 2017.
“I have only been in New York so it is hard to go somewhere for one year and try to learn the system and all of that so I decided that I would stay for that particular reason,” he said. “I wasn’t really too much worried about me going anywhere and trying to make it because I know what kind of player I am . . . I feel like I had unfinished business to do.”
He just so happened to get a new sack partner out of it, too. The Giants’ most ballyhooed free agent pickup, defensive end Olivier Vernon, consulted with Pierre-Paul one day before signing. Pierre-Paul said the two players spoke for a half-hour.
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“I said, ‘Look, at the end of the day, if you come here you are going to be coming to a great organization and we do everything the right way here,’ ” Pierre-Paul said. “It was just a brief talk. And he made the decision the next day. That was basically it.”
Not that Pierre-Paul was focused on recruiting new teammates.
“At the end of the day, I am more worried about myself,” he said. “It starts with yourself first when you play football. With these new guys that we got, I am happy that we got them and now it is time to do work.”
Former Raiders offensive tackle Donald Penn is expected to visit with the Giants later this week, according to a source.
The Giants also remain an option for ex-Seahawks tackle Russell Okung, who visited the club over the weekend. Okung seemed to be favoring the Steelers, tweeting a picture of their six Super Bowl trophies on Sunday, but Pittsburgh moved on Tuesday, signing veteran lineman Ryan Harris.