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Jason Pierre-Paul Hits the Ground Running

Pierre-Paul makes up for terrible offensive performance in loss to Panthers

By Josh Alper
|  Monday, Aug 15, 2011  |  Updated 12:54 PM EDT
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Pierre-Paul likes the smell of quarterbacks in the evening.

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The stage is set for Osi Umenyiora to slink his way back into the Giants fold on Monday; his visit to a doctor turned up no sign he needs surgery on the injured knee that cropped up when he realized the Giants weren't going to trade him or give him a new contract.

The team will give him some incentives to make for a slightly less disgruntled employee, nothing extravagant but enough to ensure that Umenyiora stops training for the Tour de France on a stationary bike and gets back on the football field. After watching Saturday night's preseason opener against the Panthers, you have to wonder if that's the right move.

Jason Pierre-Paul started opposite Justin Tuck on Saturday in Umenyiora's absence and completely dominated the Panthers offensive line. He had two sacks, just missed a third and his pressure forced a throw that Michael Boley picked off and returned for the only Giants touchdown in a 20-10 loss.

It was a continuation of the growth we saw in the last six weeks of Pierre-Paul's rookie season in 2010. He rang up 4.5 sacks in the closing weeks of the season as he put his outstanding athletic ability together with an increased mental awareness of the game to look like he was a future star capable of giving the team exactly what they get from Umenyiora.

You don't want to get overly enthusiastic about a performance in the first preseason game of the year, especially this year as players have worked so little in advance of game action. Still, Pierre-Paul's game makes you daydream a bit about what he'll do to opposing quarterbacks now that he has some experience under his belt.

It also makes you understand a bit more about Jerry Reese's approach to the Osi situation and the offseason as a whole. There's no way you give Umenyiora more money when you have a player that looks like a younger, healthier and happier version of him waiting in the wings.

And you can stand up and make playoff guarantees in the face of harsh criticism when you can see a pass rush that calls to mind the 2007 group that brought you the Lombardi Trophy. Anyone wondering what Reese had up his sleeve got a good idea on Saturday night.

Of course, Pierre-Paul alone won't make a difference if the offense looks as awful as it did on Saturday. The offensive line did zero to alleviate concerns about their ability to get the job done and a pressured Eli Manning seemed to miss having safety blankets Steve Smith and Kevin Boss to throw to in his brief playing time.

The upside is that you can get more cohesive and coherent on offense with more work. You can't just teach someone to have the impact Pierre-Paul had on Saturday night, though, and that's the biggest takeaway from the Giants' preseason opener.

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