New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has spent a year as the butt of jokes nationwide following his severe hand injury during a fireworks incident on July 4, 2015. Now, he is ready to make his doubters pay.
In an interview with ESPN on Thursday, Pierre-Paul announced that with a full offseason of training and adjusting to his new limitations, he has big plans for the 2016 season.
"I feel fine, I feel great," Pierre-Paul told ESPN as New York Giants players reported to training camp. When asked if he would be more effective than he was a year ago, he replied, "Yeah, I know so."
Despite having his right index finger amputated following last year's incident, Pierre-Paul was able to suit up in the Giants' final eight games in 2015. JPP finished the season with 26 total tackles and one sack, although ESPN noted his 41 quarterback pressures were the league's fifth-best over Weeks 9-17.
But Pierre-Paul, still only 27 years old, said the comically oversized club he wore last season for protection is a thing of the past, as he now feels 100%.
"I'm not worried about no club," he said. "My hand feels great. No complaining, no nothing. I've been training hard, been getting after it and getting ready to play some football. The club isn't going to be an issue or anything. My right hand feels like my left hand."
The Giants certainly believe Pierre-Paul, a Pro Bowler in 2011 and 2012, will be able to regain some of his old form. The team offered him a one-year, $10.5 million contract to return to New York this season.
"I don't have to prove anything. It's free will. I know I don't need nothing to go out there to protect myself," he said. "I feel comfortable in using my hand and striking with it and hitting with it. I'm very excited to show people, 'Hey, nothing has changed.'"
Pierre-Paul's Giants, who finished a disappointing 6-10 last season after allowing a league-high 420.3 offensive yards per game, will begin the 2016 preseason Aug. 12 against the Dolphins.
More on JPP:
-- Jason Pierre-Paul Stars in July 4 Fireworks PSA
-- One Year After Fireworks Accident, Jason Pierre-Paul Skipping Fourth of July
-- Lawrence Taylor Says Thumb, Not Index Finger, Challenge For Jason Pierre-Paul