City Sports Report

Can Jason Pierre-Paul Grab the Torch for the New York Giants? by Anthony Rushing

Jason-Pierre-Paul Will Need to Lead the Giants Defense

Jason Pierre-Paul is at a crossroads in his NFL career. The 25-year old defensive end for the New York Giants can become a free agent at the end of this coming season. However, Pierre-Paul isn’t just playing for a new contract in 2014; he’s the next in line to become a leader on the Giants defensive line.

Pierre-Paul won’t be the student anymore. This season, he’ll audition to become the teacher. This past offseason the Giants parted ways with Pierre-Paul’s mentor, Justin Tuck and the move opened a spot on the defensive line. Not just any spot, but a spot that requires a torchbearer to fill. This spot was preceded respectively by Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, and Tuck – Pierre-Paul could be next.

2013 was a lost season for Pierre-Paul largely due to a back injury he suffered in 2012. He had surgery on his back in early 2013, worked hard to come back in time for week 1 last year, yet struggled throughout the regular season with back and shoulder injuries. The Giants are hoping to see the 2011 Pierre-Paul who helped spark the team’s run to the Super Bowl with 16.5 sacks.

The responsibility of leadership for Pierre-Paul will be demanding enough, but he’ll also be playing for a new contract. The Giants reportedly have been quiet so far on any talk of a new contract for Pierre-Paul. That’s most likely because they are waiting to see if Pierre-Paul has indeed regained his form. Another down year from him could leave the Giants with enough reason to part ways with him after the season. If Pierre-Paul is healthy, it’s a huge lift for a team looking to put the nightmares of 2013 behind them. It could also push the Giants towards locking him up to a long-term deal to stay with the only NFL team he’s ever played for.

Heading into this season, Pierre-Paul is insisting he has nothing to prove and I’d disagree with that assessment. Aside from the fact he’s looking to show he’s healthy again, he’s taking on a new role of leadership on the team in a contract year for him. The Giants will miss Tuck’s presence; however I believe Pierre-Paul should be more than able to rise to the challenge of filling his shoes. He definitely has more than enough incentive to do so, if he does then the torch is his to carry.

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