Jason Pierre-Paul: 'I'll be better than I was' before serious hand injuries

Twelve months ago, Jason Pierre-Paul had the use of all ten fingers but that changed during a July 4 fireworks accident that led to the loss of his right index finger and the tip of his right thumb. He missed eight games in 2015 and when he returned, he didn't have full use of his hand because it was taped into a club. As a result, he finished the year with just one sack.

In January, Pierre-Paul underwent another surgery.

But now the former first-round pick, who signed a one-year, $10.5 million "show-me" deal in March, expects to return to his pre-injury form.

“I am the player I used to be,” Pierre-Paul said Tuesday, via ESPN.com. “Just a couple injuries here and there, but I’m all right. I’ll be better than I was."

Instead of a club Pierre-Paul will wear a specialized glove, which will give him the use of his right hand. Great news since grabbing, pulling and pushing are all important skills when rushing the passer.

Jason Pierre-Paul is ready to put the 2015 season solidly in the rearview. (USATSI)
Jason Pierre-Paul is ready to put the 2015 season solidly in the rearview. (USATSI)

"I knew I was going to need surgery after the season -- that’s the reason I played with the club," Pierre-Paul explained. "But now, I’m past that. I’m looking forward, and I’m hitting the bags normal, I’m grabbing normal -- I’m not even limited, so it’s a straight shot from here. ...

"I missed the whole offseason last year. I was still working out, but it would have been better for me if I was here, getting to know the system and everything -- it’s very important. And I’m glad that I’m here this year."

If Pierre-Paul returns to his pre-injury form -- he had 12.5 sacks in 2014 -- the Giants' defense will be a problem for the rest of the league. The team was busy during the first week of free agency, bolstering a unit that ranked 30th last season, according to Football Outsiders' metrics. Former Dolphins pass rusher Olivier Vernon was the marquee name, signing a five-year, $85 million deal with $52.5 million guaranteed, but in a passing league, you can never have enough good pass rushers.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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