NFL • Defensive star returns to practice following disk surgery in June.
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East Rutherford, N.J. • Defensive catalyst Jason Pierre-Paul is a step closer to being back in the New York Giants lineup.
The fourth-year defensive was taken off the physically unable to perform list on Monday and returned to the practice less than two weeks before the season opener at Dallas.
It's uncertain whether Pierre-Paul, who had disk surgery on his back in June, will be ready for the opener.
"I'm not playing any preseason games and I don't even know about the Dallas game," Pierre-Paul said. "I just want try to get better and test it out and see how it is taking on double teams and all that. Right now, there's nothing to be said about whether I'm going to play come the opener."
Having him back a couple of days before Thursday's preseason finale at New England was welcome news.
"He is our best defensive playmaker, hands down," safety Antrel Rolle said. "I think he shows it week in and week out. With him having the surgery and trying to get back into tip-top shape and tip-top form, hopefully, we'll see a performance that he has never shown us. We are looking for miraculous things out of JPP.
"He's a guy that can definitely give it to us."
An All Pro in 2011, Pierre-Paul had a subpar 2012 season. After recording 16½ sacks in helping the Giants win the Super Bowl in 2011, he had 10 less last year as New York posted a 9-7 record and missed the postseason.
In recent weeks, the former first-round pick said he played in pain last season.
"I don't have that pain that I had before surgery," Pierre-Paul said. "That pain is all gone. (From) time to time, it can get sore but that's not uncommon. I feel good about it."
Pierre-Paul insisted it was his decision to come off the list, and it will be his decision when to play.
"I don't have no goal. I'm taking it day by day. I'm not trying to rush," Pierre-Paul said. "A back is a serious thing. Back surgery is a serious thing. You can't try to come back too early or you can mess it up even more."
The Giants have struggled getting to the quarterback in the preseason, proving just how critical Pierre-Paul is. New York certainly has the depth up front with Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Linval Joseph and Shawn Rogers in addition to Pierre-Paul.
"He eats up double teams," safety Terrell Thomas said. "The more options and more athletes we have on the field, (the better). He is a Pro Bowl-type of guy, so when you get a guy like that back, it makes us that much better."