A disappointing season for the New York Giants on both sides of the football has taken its toll on the offensive and defensive ranks. It’s a season that veteran linebacker Olivier Vernon would likely be happy to put in the rearview mirror.
Vernon has tallied 45.5 sacks in 98 career games — including 16.5 tackles of the quarterback while in Giants blue — but only has one sack and 10 tackles so far in six games this season. After missing the first five games to open the season with a high ankle sprain, Vernon’s impact has been a muted one in the team’s first year of a switch to a 3-4 defensive scheme.
“You never really want to miss time when you’re out there, you work hard before every season coming up,” Vernon said Friday after practice. “It was just one little bump in the road, and all I can do right now is just the normal game plan and be out there for my team and make the plays that come to me.”
The 6-foot-2 linebacker was taken in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft with the 72nd overall pick. He spent four seasons with the Miami Dolphins before joining the Giants for the 2016 season when he signed a five-year, $85 million deal.
As far as his 2018 injury woes are concerned, Vernon is not making any excuses for himself.
“I feel good,” he said. “If I’m out there, I’m out there. That’s basically it.”
Vernon hasn’t been the only part of the pass rush that has been amiss during the team’s 3-8 start. The Giants’ defensive unit ranks second-to-last in the league in sacks heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Chicago Bears.
“Guys are working together as far as trying to get back there,” Vernon said of the Giants’ pass rush. “We’re putting pressure on the quarterback, so I don’t feel like that’s really the issue. We’re just not, we ain’t coming down with the sacks. As long as we just keep getting pressure and pressure, the sacks are gonna come.”
Only time will tell what the future has in store for the 28-year-old. Vernon is still owed roughly $30 million over the next two seasons, which may cause a bit of a discussion among front office types in the offseason.
Vernon told reporters that his contract and future with the team are not things he is dwelling on right now.
“Right now, it’s [about] the Bears, man, and whatever happens, happens,” Vernon said. “All I can do is just focus on what I’ve got to do.”
Head coach Pat Shurmur was mum on the idea that teams are devoting “extra resources to block [Vernon]”.
“He’s just like every player on our team,” Shurmur said. “He can be a disruptive force, we all know that. He’s been out there … battling and making plays, he just has to continue to play. I think that’s the focus for all players.”