October 23, 2021

Bucs Life

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2018’s Defensive Stalwart/Sack Leader, Returns

4 min read

Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

We all know that last year under Dirk Koetter was a year best left in the rearview mirror. There wasn’t much worth remembering . Although, there was one silver lining sewn into the storm clouds that was 2018; Jason Pierre Paul recorded 12.5 sacks. It was made so memorable by the fact that since 2005, no player had finished the season with double-digit sacks. That’s 13 years of double-digit drought, by a team-best known for its defensive prowess. It’s almost a foregone conclusion that Paul will move on after this season, but while he is still here, hopefully, he can make a meaningful contribution.

Then the bottom fell out. On May 2nd of this year, around 2:38 a.m., JPP lost control of his red Ferrari, spun around, and hit a concrete barrier in the Median. Paul ended up with a small fracture in his neck. Fast forward to the Titans game, and he is back, ready to take the field. If he does, and for how long is up to the coaches. The feeling is he may play.
Pierre-Paul had this to say when asked about being back with his teammates at practice.

“To be honest, it felt great. It’s been a long journey, but I still got a lot going on, but it’s been great working with my teammates.”

JPP was then asked how he was feeling on the injury front, and about his return to action.

“I feel good, superb, and I have no expectations. The moment they release me to go out there, I’ll be out there. Right now, I’m good, I’m back practicing, so we’ll see.”

Then he was asked about the perils of coming back after a neck injury, when many do not, and the birth of his second child while rehabbing.

“Not a lot of people come back from blowing up their hand, too. I had no doubts. I’m just glad I can have kids. I know how hard my Mom and father worked to get me where I need to get today, and just to have kids, and to see my daughter born; that’s a blessing.”

On coming back and playing with another sack specialist Shaq Barrett, and getting back in pads.

“He’s a good player. I can’t wait to get out there with him. Like I said, I’ve got a lot of work to do in a short amount of time, and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve Been eager since 10 months ago.”

Coach Arians is happy to get JPP back and says he is looking the part.

“He looked good, he looks fine, he’s healthy.”

Despite practicing with the scout team the majority of practice, the amount of practice JPP is getting in is a sure sign that he is on his way to a full return. JPP was practicing in full pads with full contact, and coach Arians was surprised by how quickly he was able to bounce back from his neck injury this offseason.

“He’s come back from some serious stuff, and he’s kind of a freak of nature as far as healing. He has a great belief in his faith, and I think sometimes that helps heal you.”

JPP’s return to the line up surely will be beneficial to the team, and Bruce Arians says he can already feel the difference.

“That’s a huge thing because he has been one of the vocal leaders for a long time, and not having his presence, I can already feel the difference. Obviously, he’s feeling his way football-wise, but the rest of it, last week, going out to practice, coaching, doing all those things, giving young guys advice. It’s fantastic.”

Jason Pierre-Pauls paul’s return will help Shaq Barrett get to the QB more often, and Arians already has an idea of how NAssib and JPP will be utilized together.

“[Nassib] He can play inside or outside, as JPP can, and we’ve played Shaq off the ball some, so it’s fun toys to play with when you start rushing the passer, and you have that many guys.”

I think we all have been eager for it, there’s no doubt that he could help the Defense be better. As of late, we have lacked pressure on the quarterback, and with our DB’s youth and inexperience overall, the pressure is something we desperately need to help those backs out and force turnovers. Whether or not he will play this Sunday, it’s good to have Pierre-Paul back out there practicing, and team and coaches should have reason to rejoice to head into week 8