EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Steve Spagnuolo is like everybody else when it comes to Jason Pierre-Paul.
The New York Giants defensive coordinator is trying to find out how much the two-time Pro Bowl defensive end will be able to do after losing a finger in a July 4 fireworks accident.
After rejoining the team Wednesday, Pierre-Paul proved to the medical staff that he was in shape. He was allowed to get some reps with the scout team on Thursday.
The next step probably would be a return to practice, then finally getting into a game. That’s probably not going to happen this week with the Giants (4-3) traveling to New Orleans to face the Saints (3-4).
“It’s hard to tell anything right now,” Spagnuolo said Thursday after practice. “Obviously, we’re all happy he is back in fold here. I don’t know him as well as everyone else here, the coaches. I have admired him from afar. I know he is a really good football player.”
The Giants are going to be careful with the six-year veteran. He missed all of training camp and the first seven games of the regular season. So while he might be in good physical shape, it’s another thing being in football shape. His body has to get used to the hitting, wearing pads and playing with bumps and bruises.
“You’re not going to throw a guy out there for 65 plays when you haven’t done anything for a long time,” said Spagnuolo, who started his second tour as Giants defensive coordinator this season. “We’ll see.”
Pierre-Paul has not talked to the media since the accident. The team said he plans to talk Friday.
Having Pierre-Paul back should help the Giants generate a pass rush. They have nine sacks in seven games. Pierre-Paul had 12 1/2 last season.
Spagnuolo said Pierre-Paul is not going to have a problem fitting into the new defensive system. He’s going to have to adjust to terminology changes, but line coach Robert Nunn has been working with him.
“Football is football and I don’t think we have changed all that much from the standpoint of the position he plays,” Spagnuolo said, adding that early on he intends to make things as simple as possible for Pierre-Paul.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees said Pierre-Paul is a great player who needs to be watched.
“If he were to play, then he’s the guy you got to have a plan for,” Brees said.
Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said his approach to an opposing player returning to the game after an injury is to test him.
“He looked good out here today, I’ll say that,” McAdoo said.
Middle linebacker Jon Beason isn’t worried about Pierre-Paul, who was the Giants’ best defensive player before the accident.
“He is JPP for a reason,” Beason said. “I don’t see why he won’t be able to go out there and help us.”
NOTES: Cornerback Prince Amukamara (pectoral), LBs Beason (ankle) and J.T. Thomas (ankle), defensive end Owa Odighizuwa (hamstring) and wide receiver Victor Cruz did not practice. Guard Geoff Schwartz (ankle) was limited. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) and linebacker Uani ‘Unga (neck) practiced fully. …Special teams coach Tom Quinn has been working with placekicker Josh Brown because his kickoffs have been short. Quinn said it’s a timing issue and Brown has the leg for touchbacks.
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