With a two-sack performance against Carolina, Jason Pierre-Paul gave the Giants some insurance that right defensive end would be all right regardless of the circumstances of the regular starter.
And by doing so, he may have lit a fire under the posterior of said starter, Osi Umenyiora.
The Pro Bowl right defensive end told the Associated Press Sunday night that, although he rejected the numerous incentives the Giants proposed to sweeten his current deal, he will return to practice Monday and play under the original terms of the deal. Umenyiora has two years left on his contract and is due to make $7.1 million total.
The incentives would have bumped his pay in each of the two years between $400,000 and $1 million based on playing time and top 10 finishes in various defensive categories.
The Giants didn't appear to be sitting at the edge of their seats waiting for Umenyiora to cave after watching JPP manhandle Carolina's veteran left tackle Jordan Gross in the 20-10 loss.
Two sacks, a near-sack, and a pressured throw from quarterback Jimmy Clausen that Michael Boley intercepted and returned 56 yards for a touchdown highlighted the one-quarter effort.
Now, it's true that preseason openers predict nothing. But Paul did go against their starting left tackle. And he did dominate. And, taking last year's 4 1/2-sack productivity as a rotational member into account, the arrow appears to be pointing up at RDE. Even as Umenyiora prepares to return, it is obvious Pierre-Paul has matured from the good-looking rookie that had 4 1/2 sacks in rotational usage last year.
"I thought I played pretty good," Pierre-Paul said. "I knew what I was supposed to do and I was just out there executing. I came out, and I wasn't nervous. I knew the play calls, and I caught on very well. I just felt good. It felt very good."
One thing is for sure. Umenyiora was long overdue to get on the field. Now that he has gotten assurances from the doctors that his supposedly bothersome right knee won't need surgery, and has clearance from the Giants' medical staff to participate in drills, it's time for Umenyiora to get going.
He just might. Umenyiora goes into practice, at least, with a huge chip on his shoulder now.
"No deal has been reworked," Umenyiora e-mailed to the AP. "What has been offered has been unacceptable and shows they don’t really respect the fact I sacrifice my health for the franchise. I will play under my current deal because I love and respect my coaches, my teammates, the fans, and myself. Not for those incentives."
The Giants needn't worry, though. Even if Umenyiora bugs out again (highly unlikely), they have Pierre-Paul ready and eager to go.