By Curt Macysyn
There are many who thought that the relationship between Jason Pierre-Paul and the New York Giants was irreparable, especially after a tempestuous summer that saw Pierre-Paul seriously injure his right hand in a fireworks accident over the Fourth of July weekend. Those folks would be wrong. Offensive lineman Justin Pugh has been having a Pro Bowl season after an off-season position switch, but what else has he done to improve his play? And in a quarterback-driven league, how does Dwayne Harris stack up against some of the NFL’s best signal callers?
Pierre-Paul Back In The Fold
The New York Giants certainly missed their former Pro Bowl star, Jason Pierre-Paul, on and off the field. Big Blue’s punchless pass rush ranks next-to-last in quarterback sacks in the NFL, so getting JPP back can only help. Pierre-Paul and the team came to terms on a contract on Tuesday, nearly four months after a fireworks accident put his NFL career in serious jeopardy.
“I’m very excited to be back,” Pierre-Paul said moments after signing his contract. “I’m getting ready to do what I have to do. I’ve been training down in South Florida with my trainer. Every day, I got up at 7:30 and lifted weights, I’ve been doing what I have to do to stay in football shape.” The Giants have a two-week roster exemption for Pierre-Paul, so it remains possible that he could see his first action of 2015 against the New England Patriots on Nov. 15. Stay tuned.
No Meat For You
Justin Pugh should be in the mix of candidates for the Pro Bowl at guard this season. The third-year player from Syracuse University currently ranks fifth in the NFL with a (+12.7) by Pro Football Focus. Pugh has been able to move seamlessly from right tackle to left guard, and improved offensive line play has catapulted Big Blue to the top of the division.
As part of his off-the-field regimen, Pugh has partnered with Silk to promote healthier eating choices with #MeatlessMondayNight. “Silk and the Giants partnered up and found some guys on the team who took nutrition into account. Being an offensive lineman and having to keep my weight up, but in the right way, I had to learn a lot about nutrition.”
Most NFL teams are now embracing sports science to help keep their players on the field, and the Giants typically have a recovery day on Friday. “Players have started to embrace nutrition and plant-based products. I drink a smoothie every day in the morning,” Pugh mentioned in an exclusive interview.
“This program is about promoting a healthier lifestyle and creating a pattern where individuals may lay off meat on a Monday night. For me, mixing in plant-based products is a healthier choice, and it’s given me more stamina and endurance.” Pugh is joined by teammates Rashad Jenning and Geoff Schwartz in promoting the program.
The New York Giants wide receiver Dwayne Harris made the most important play in the team’s season to-date. Sticking a dagger into the heart of his former teammates, Harris returned a kick-off 100-yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter on Sunday. For the play that helped the Giants take sole possession of first place in the NFC East, Harris has been nominated for the Castrol EDGE Clutch Performer of the Week, the NFL announced on Tuesday.
Harris has some stiff competition for the award this week, as he is up against quarterbacks Tom Brady, Blake Bortles, and Kirk Cousins, as well as defensive back Tony Jefferson of the Arizona Cardinals. Turnabout is fair play, and a Harris victory would lessen the sting of Tony Romo getting the honor in Week 1, on the backs of the Giants in the Cowboys 27-26 comeback win over Big Blue.
Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past four seasons for Examiner.com, and he is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA). Born and raised in New Jersey, Curt attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, N.J. and is a graduate of Rutgers University – New Brunswick. Follow him on Twitter @CurtMac23 for the latest NFL and New York Giants news.