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Is Jason Pierre-Paul The Next Lawrence Taylor? Giant Icon Has His Say

Mr. P

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Lawrence Taylor is envious of Jason Pierre-Paul.


Not necessarily of his freakish talent, mind you, but the company the Giants’ defensive end gets to keep in his chase of quarterbacks.


Opponents already were game-planning about how to compensate for Pro Bowl defensive ends Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. Now the presence of Pierre-Paul and his combination of size and speed also is causing sleepless nights for offensive coaches.


"Let me tell you: if I was playing with those two guys [Tuck and Umenyiora], I’d have 40 sacks a year and I ain’t kidding you," Taylor wrote in an email to The Record last week. "There isn’t a discussion about this collective group. They are clearly the best in football today."


Taylor has been hearing comparisons for a while and he had laughed them off without hesitation until now. But maybe, just maybe, this time the someone garnering this kind of uncommon attention will prove deserving of the hype once created by the greatest defensive player in Giants history, one of the best the NFL has witnessed on its fields.


In a year, Pierre-Paul has gone from relative unknown with untapped potential to Super Bowl champion game-changer referred to by his initials more than his name.


Rarefied air in New York/New Jersey sports, for sure, and on the football field, there’s a certain legacy to which those included in that club must aspire.


"I’ve heard for 20 years about the next LT and last I checked there hasn’t been one," Taylor wrote. "That said, if there is going to be one, let it be a fellow Giant. I got no problem with that."


Pierre-Paul opened eyes in last year’s preseason opener, registering two sacks in one quarter in a defeat to Carolina and doing it against Pro Bowl left tackle Jordan Gross, answering questions as to whether he was ready to be a starter in the league.


He steps inside EverBank Field tonight as the Giants open their preseason against the Jaguars not as someone out to prove he can play at this level, but a playmaker whose skill puts him at the forefront of the position at 23 years old.


Taylor praised Pierre-Paul’s complete game, writing: "I have seen a few games over the past two years and listen, the kid is impressive. He has everything that you would draw up for a DE: size, speed, technique — to me, those are the key attributes even more so than brute strength [Lord knows I wasn’t in the gym every day].


"As far as his impact, hey you’re only as good as your weakest link and fortunately for JPP there are no weak links on that line. Period."


During the first practice of training camp, Pierre-Paul was everywhere.


He pressured QB Eli Manning from all angles, lining up on the left and the right, at end and tackle, driving the offensive linemen on his own team completely nuts.


"He came in as Jason Pierre-Paul, as this defensive end, and now he is JPP," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. "So people are going to study him a little bit more and pay more attention to him."


Part of Pierre-Paul’s mission is trying to trick his mind into thinking his place on the team – forget about his status as one of the league’s most feared pass rushers – is hardly as secure as reality would suggest.


"I am just trying to be that 20-year-old kid again trying to make a football team," Pierre-Paul said. "Be a sponge to the game and teach these rookies something, too. That is basically it: stay a 20-year-old kid trying to make the football team like I don’t even have a spot on the team."


Pierre-Paul finished with 16.5 sacks and 86 tackles in his second year as a professional, just about single-handedly sparking the Giants to a crucial late season triumph in Dallas when he blocked a potential game-tying field goal that would have forced overtime.


Many have asked if Pierre-Paul has set his sights on Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record of 22.5, a goal Taylor believes is certainly a realistic one, especially with Tuck and Umenyiora also garnering their share of attention.


Pierre-Paul did not take Taylor’s sack-total assertion for himself if he were a member of this group as a slight. If anything, he agreed with the Hall of Fame outside linebacker.


"He probably would," Pierre-Paul said with a laugh. "I don’t have a [sack] number in my head, though. I just go out and play. … That’s an honor just for him to mention my name."


Well, his initials at least.


"It’s been a long time since people called me by my name," Pierre-Paul added with a smile. "Most everybody calls me JPP."


Pierre-Paul has indeed come a long way, but teammates believe he can get even better, eventually approaching the iconic status Taylor earned nearly three decades ago.


Continuing on a quest to repair his off-the-field image, tarnished two years ago by an incident that led to his guilty plea to misdemeanor charges of sexual misconduct and patronizing a prostitute, Taylor conducted a free football camp for North Jersey youth in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America last month at Hackensack High School.


Of the on-field similarities between Taylor and Pierre-Paul, Tuck said: "Just turn them loose on the football field. They used to say to LT, you know what, go out there and be a crazed dog [and] that’s when you saw him make plays that you’d never seen anybody else make; same thing with JPP.


"They’re the type of guys I call game-changers – when they step off the bus, the game has been changed because they demand that much attention."


With that attention comes plenty of expectations, not to mention those comparisons.


"As far as how I would suggest he deal with it: combine your physical attributes with the mental ones," Taylor wrote. "And simply find a way to get it done."



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JPP is a work in progress...........only time will tell how good he becomes and where his records end up at


He is probably the most athletic 300 lb man on the planet......thats for sure


LT played at about 230 didn't he?..........for pure fierceness I'd still have to go with LT

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Trollbait if ever I saw it.


Naww, I just remember the countless threads during Tomlinson's record breaking career saying that he should never be refereed to as "LT" as many sports commentators at the time were doing.


I personally never had a problem with it.

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If Reggie White, Mark Gastineau and Mike Strahan were not the next LT, it will be hard for JPP


LT had license to wander the line of scrimmage, and drop back pre snap.......its hard for a stationary player like JPP to have an "LT" impact.


Richard Dent for but one year- 1985, was the only man on D to ever have an "LT impact"...........going back in time Butkus was LT equivalent, sort of.

One was a Brute, the other a Ferrari

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