EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul will have more surgery on his damaged right hand after the season ends, he said Wednesday.
Pierre-Paul said the surgery or surgeries (he's hoping it's only one) have been planned all along and that he put them off in order to return to the field and play for the Giants this year. Pierre-Paul has been playing with a heavy club wrap on his hand since his Week 9 return from the July 4 fireworks accident that cost him his right index finger and severely damaged his middle finger and thumb. He said the goal of the surgery is to improve the flexibility in his middle finger so that he can grip better and play without that club.
"On film, you can see the club is preventing me from making tackles," Pierre-Paul said. "People see it, I see it, and once I can move away from the club, I'll be perfectly fine."
Pierre-Paul's middle finger is shorter than it used to be and about twice as thick on top due to the skin graft procedures he had to repair burns. As a result, he's not able to bend it to the extent that he used to. He declined to go into details about what the surgery would be, but his hope is that it allows him to make greater use of his remaining fingers. He uses specially designed four-fingered gloves in the weight room and tried to play with one in his second game back but quickly switched back to the club after only one defensive series with the glove.
Pierre-Paul, who turns 27 on Friday, is eligible for unrestricted free agency at the end of this season and said he'd like to be back with the Giants if possible.
"They gave me a second chance," he said. "They didn't have to. I appreciate that, but they also know what type of player they're getting. I'm just a different type of player. I don't think a lot of guys could have done what I did, come back from what I came back from and played the way I've played."
Asked who in the current Giants locker room could replace him as a pass-rusher, Pierre-Paul looked around and said, "Nobody."
Which is part of the reason he feels he owes the Giants something.
"We didn't make the playoffs this year, and I feel like half of that is my fault," Pierre-Paul said. "If I was there, we probably would have won some of those games we lost early in the season."
The Giants' pass rush has languished near the bottom of the league most of the year, though it has improved somewhat since Pierre-Paul returned. He and fellow defensive end Robert Ayers are both free agents, and the Giants have a major rebuilding project to do on the defensive side of the ball. Pierre-Paul has said many times, before and since the fireworks accident, that he'd love to stay with the team that drafted him. But it's clear he believes himself to be a very valuable free agent and that the Giants will have to pay up to bring him back.
"They need a pass-rusher, and I feel like that's what I bring to the table," Pierre-Paul said. "I think me just being here says a lot. I could have taken the year off, rehabbed and healed and whatever, but I came back and played. My hand has stopped me from doing a couple of things, but that'll be fixed. In reality, I wasn't supposed to be here. So I've already won."