EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants will be without their best pass rusher for the season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Coach Pat Shurmur announced Friday that linebacker/defensive end Olivier Vernon will miss Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium with an ankle injury. Fellow linebacker Tae Davis also was listed as out with a hamstring injury. Neither player practiced this week.
Vernon, who had 6½ sacks in 10 games last season, was hurt in a practice before the preseason finale against the New England Patriots. He has not practiced since the injury.
Either rookie Lorenzo Carter or veteran Connor Barwin probably will replace Vernon in the new 3-4 defensive scheme that will be tested by one of the top running attacks in the league.
The Giants have played the run well in the preseason. Vernon has been a big part of that along with the line of Snacks Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson and rookie B.J. Hill.
A third-round draft pick out of Georgia, Carter’s stock has been shooting up since the start of training camp. He is fast and physical. Barwin, who was signed before the start of camp, has more experience and 55½ career sacks entering his 10th season.
“I have no choice,” Carter said Friday of his anticipated pro debut. “I’m excited, ready for this season and ready for it to start. I want to go out and contribute.”
Defensive coordinator James Bettcher plans to use a few players to replace Vernon, who was transitioning from a defensive end in the old 4-3 system to a hybrid linebacker in the 3-4.
Vernon, who also missed four games with an ankle injury last season, was not in the locker room this week to discuss his injury.
Bettcher said Carter has been improving with each week.
“I think the thing I see the most is the faster he plays,” Bettcher said. “He’s starting to really understand what we’re doing and what we’re asking of him, number one, then two, just as a rusher, he’s really learning how to rush.”
Barwin, who have five sacks with the Rams last season, missed the final three games of the preseason nursing a knee problem. It was more precautionary than anything, he said.
“My body feels good,” Barwin said. “It’s funny when people talk about Lorenzo and me, I’m obviously closer to the end of my career and he’s right at the beginning of his. But majority of my career I’ve played maybe 90 percent of the snaps for every season. So I’m used to getting a lot of snaps. However things unfold here, whatever they ask me to do, I’m confident I’ll be able to do it.”
Barwin has experience against the Jaguars. He faced them last year with the Rams in a 27-17 win.
“I went back and watched the film,” Barwin said. “We did all right, but they ran the ball a little bit on us. That’s in the past, and we’re prepared this week for what the Giants defense is going to do and hopefully be a little bit better.”
Shurmur didn’t believe Vernon’s injury would be long term, saying he is making progress.
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