There is no way to downplay the importance of the return of the Giants’ best defensive player so Jason Pierre-Paul’s teammates didn’t even try. They saw what the defense was like last season when he was physically a mess. And they’ve seen what it’s been like this summer when he hasn’t been able to play at all.
When Mathias Kiwanuka was asked what’s been missing with JPP out of the lineup he said simply “Sacks.” Oh is that all? He could’ve added a consistent pass rush a dominating playmaker and a presence that can be felt on both sides of the line too.
“He’s our best defensive playmaker hands down” said safety Antrel Rolle. “With him having the surgery and trying to get him back to tip top shape hopefully we’re going to see a performance that we’ve never ever seen from him.

“We’re looking for miraculous things out of JPP” Rolle added. “And he’s a guy that can definitely give it to us.”

All they’ve needed is a miracle — or at least a defensive savior — pretty much since they hoisted the Lombardi Trophy after Super Bowl XLVI. JPP was a monster in that 2011 season with 16-1/2 sacks including six — plus a blocked potential game-tying field goal in Dallas — in the Giants’ final four regular-season games. Then in the playoffs when offenses overloaded the protection to his side the rest of the defensive line was free to power a Super Bowl run.

But as JPP struggled with a back injury worse than he let on last season he had just 6-1/2 sacks and the Giants defense collapsed around him finishing ranked 31st in the league. Now he’s back — activated off the Physically Unable to Perform list Monday less than three months after back surgery — and while he doesn’t know if he’ll be ready for the opener on Sept. 8 he did declare Monday that “I don’t have that pain that I had before surgery.”