ESPN New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul underwent surgery Tuesday in Los Angeles to repair a herniated disk in his lower back, the team announced. The team estimated Pierre-Paul would be recovered from the surgery in 12 weeks. Pierre-Paul, 24, played with the back injury last year and received multiple epidural injections to get through the season. “My back has been bothering me for a while, and even last season I played through some back issues,” Pierre-Paul said in statement from the team. “The treatment I’ve been doing has helped manage the issue, but this procedure is going to get me fully healthy and there should be no more pain. I’m going to do everything the doctors tell me to do during my rehab so I can be back playing the game I love at a high level as quickly as possible.” The belief is he should be ready for the start of the 2013 season and should be 100 percent, a source said. The surgery was being performed by Dr. Robert Watkins. “The timing of his return to football will depend on his response to the rehabilitation program. We anticipate a full recovery,” Watkins said in a statement. Pierre-Paul said in April that he was not out of shape last season when his production dipped from 16.5 sacks in 2011 to 6.5 sacks in 2012. The Pro Bowl pass-rusher was responding to comments made earlier in the offseason by coach Tom Coughlin. The coach said at the owners meeting in Arizona, “He didn’t play as well as the year before. … He was big when he came to camp. There’s not a lot of body fat [with Pierre-Paul], yes, but still.” “I was always in great shape,” Pierre-Paul said. “I’m still the same size this year. People say I look slimmer but I’m the same weight. “I was not big last year,” he added. “I was 273 and I’m 274 now. If they want me to lose weight, I can do it that fast.” Justin Tuck thought Pierre-Paul looked slimmer this offseason. “He looks slim,” Tuck said about his teammate after an offseason workout in April. “Just the first two days of running and working and lifting, he looks primed to have another great year for us, and we are going to need him because he is a big part of our success.”
Add this to the growing list of offseason issues that the New York Giants are calling “No big deal” and telling fans that everything will be fine at the start of 2013 season. I am skeptical that all of these will be non-issues by the start of the season, and as a Giants fan, I am starting to get worried. First restricted free agent wide receiver Victor Cruz, who is unhappy with his contract, skipped the offseason program as the two side attempt to work out a long-term deal. Then fullback Henry Hynoski suffered a torn MCL and a chip in his tibia during one of the first plays of OTAs, he had surgery, and will likely miss the entire offseason with an eye on possibly returning for the regular season opener. Then wide receiver Hakeem Nicks drew the ire of head coach Tom Coughlin by unexpectedly not showing up for OTAs, he has not given a reason for his absence, but he likely is also holding out because he is unhappy with his contract. Now All-Pro caliber defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul had back surgery, and the team has estimated that he will recover over the next 12 weeks and that he will be ready for the season opener, but this is not a sure thing. Why did JPP wait until his recovery time was right up against the start of the 2013 regular season to have the surgery if the injury has been bothering him for a while? Jason Pierre-Paul did not play as well in 2012 (6.5 sacks) as he did in 2011 (16.5 sacks), and the Giants pass rush was not as devastating as it had been in recent years as a result. Longtime defensive end Osi Umenyiora left as a free agent this offseason, and now with the injury to JPP, the Giants trademark pass rush is a big question mark entering the 2013 season. The one sure thing is defensive end Justin Tuck, who has been slowed by injuries over the last two seasons, but is an excellent player when healthy. With JPP injured and recovering the Giants have Mathais Kiwanuka (a talented linebacker and pass rusher, who may get more reps at defensive end), Adewale Ojomo (a second year player who impressed in the 2012 preseason), Adrian Tracy (has not done much during his three NFL seasons) and rookie Damontre Moore on the defensive end depth chart. There is clearly talent there, but much of it is untested and these players have not contributed in the NFL on a week-to-week basis, save Kiwanuka who has done so at linebacker. I have heard that, if the injury to JPP is worse than predicted, the Giants could make a run at free agent veteran defensive end John Abraham.
I think the Giants will win the NFC East in 2013, with Eli Manning at the helm, they currently have the fewest issues on paper out of any team in the division. However, with two key absences and two key injuries already taking place before training camp, and the inevitable injuries that every NFL team suffers during training camp and preseason still looming, I already not as confident as I was a week ago.
There is no reason for Giants fans to panic yet, but as the list of offseason issues grows, the 2013 season has been off to an unsettling start to say the least. In a perfect world Cruz and Nicks resolve their contract issues and are on the field ASAP, JPP and Hynoski return from their injuries 100% for the opener, but all of these issues remain in doubt for the organization.