EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul reported for his first day of work after a strange and months-long odyssey in which he fought his as back from a serious fireworks accident on July 4 that cost him his ring index finger and badly mangled his hand, he was greeted by his teammates during their morning team meeting with a standing ovation.
Pierre-Paul wasn't available to speak to the media to share his emotions about finally being back home with the only pro team he's ever known, but one thing is for sure: his teammates are certainly glad to have him back.
"It was awesome to walk into the locker room and for him to finally be back and just be able to see him here and he's got a smile on his face," said receiver Odell Beckham Jr. "It's great to have him back."
While Pierre-Paul was warmly welcomed by the entire team, his defensive teammates in particular were thrilled to finally have a chance to see him, catch up and even kid around a bit, as though Pierre-Paul was never gone.
"It was great," said defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins. "While we were doing our drill, you look down and you see him doing it and he moves well. He's still fast as ever, quick as ever. Excited to see him get back in action and go out."
Pierre-Paul, who began a two-week roster exemption which will allow him to practice with the team while not counting against the 53-man roster, spend his first day working with the Giants' medical staff, running sprints and doing warmups with his teammates. Head coach Tom Coughlin said that as time goes on, the plan is to work Pierre-Paul back into the mix, little by little.
While no official timeframe has been established for Pierre-Paul's return to the lineup, he is certain to be added to the 53-man roster once the two-week roster exemption expires, which would be in time for the giants' Week 10 home game against the Patriots. Whether Pierre-Paul plays in that game or is held out until the Week 12 game against Washington (New York has a Week 11 bye) remains to be seen.
What also remains to be seen is what kind of production Pierre-Paul will be able to give to a Giants pass rush that has basically been invisible this season. Coughlin admitted that Pierre-Paul has a lot to do still in terms of getting back into football shape and getting up to speed on the new defense's terminology.
His teammates are optimistic that once Pierre-Paul is up to speed, it will be as though he never left.
"Our D-line is more complete now," Jenkins said. "It's no secret that we haven't rushed the passer as well as we'd like to. I feel like that's something that he definitely brings to the table, will definitely instantly help us with.
"We know what we are up front, we know what we've been, we know what our strengths and weaknesses have been, and he can definitely come and help out and help us improve with some of our weaknesses as a D-line."
"If I go off his track record, when he's ready, I think he'll be the same hungry, relentless player that we've all been playing with," added defensive end Robert Ayers. "I've played with him for a year, and I've yet to see him ever get tired. That's just the type of person he is. He plays hard all game, every game. He practices hard all practice, every practice.
"So when he's ready and the training staff lets him off the leash, I expect for him to be the same person. I can't predict stat-wise, but I expect him to be the same person that he's always been -- relentless, hungry, aggressive, talented, super agile, mobile. I expect for him to be all those things, and I'm looking forward to seeing it."