The New York Giants may open the regular season without their best pass rusher.
Defensive end Olivier Vernon hasn’t recovered from a high left ankle sprain and did not practice Wednesday. He left practice Aug. 27 with the injury. High ankle sprains usually sideline a player at least a month.
“He’s making great progress. From what I’ve seen, he seems to be a fast healer, but he’s working his way back,” head coach Pat Shurmur said. “I don’t think he will be out there today. He’s doing a great job of trying to get back. Certainly, when we don’t have OV in there, we’ve got to compensate and maybe two or three guys to do what he does.”
The Giants cannot realistically look to replace what Vernon brings to the field if he can’t go in Sunday’s regular season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The team can go to a pass rusher by committee setup if necessary.
Rookie Lorenzo Carter is currently behind Vernon on the depth chart. The 6-foot-5. 252-pound Carter had a pair of eye popping sacks in the preseason. Carter could be thrust into a greater role as a pass rusher and edge-setter if Vernon is unable to go. Free agent acquisition Connor Barwin could also be inserted into the starting lineup. Barwin is entering his 10th NFL season with 55.5 career sacks.
Vernon told the New York Daily News his ankle “feels better than last week”. Instead of practicing, he spent Wednesday in the weight room. The Giants are being cautious with Vernon, who is due to make $17 million this season. He has 15 sacks in 28 career games with the Giants.
The Giants did get some good news on the injury front Wednesday. Tight end Evan Engram cleared the concussion protocol and had a full day of practice. Engram suffered a concussion in the third preseason game against the New York Jets when he was crushed by a pair of defenders.
Engram participated in Wednesday’s practice without the red non-contact jersey he wore at Monday’s practice.
“I feel good,” Engram said. “Today is the first full day. I got around on Monday a little bit. I feel good, I’m ready to go, and I’m learning all of the game plan stuff for this week. I’m excited to play on Sunday, for sure.”
Besides Vernon, the only other player listed on the Giants’ injury report is rookie linebacker Tae Davis (hamstring). The Giants provided no information as to the playing status of Vernon or Davis for Sunday.
– Curtis Rawls is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage and covers the NFL, the New York Giants, and the NBA. Please like and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Twitter. Curtis can be followed on Twitter @CuRawls203.