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Olivier Vernon building chemistry with new-look D-Line

Posted Jul 20, 2016

DE Olivier Vernon discusses the progress of the Giants new-look defensive line: 

When the Giants were preparing to play the Dolphins last year, all the questions for the offensive players and coaches were about blocking Ndamukong Suh. Inevitably, their response would include a mention of another player on that Dolphins defensive line that was jumping off the game film: Olivier Vernon.

The Giants front office remembered what Vernon could do and added him to the defense at the start of free agency. Throughout the offseason program, Vernon made sure to get familiar with defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme.

“I feel pretty good,” Vernon said. “It was just a matter of time, getting used to everything, the calls and scheme. It’s moving smooth right now. Everybody is working together and everything is going fast. You don’t want to go out there thinking too much. Feeling great right now.”

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Vernon has 29 sacks in his career and is coming off a 7.5-sack season last year. Even though that number doesn’t jump off the page, he was near the top of the league in quarterback pressures. The Giants brought him in to make it easier for the team to get to the quarterback with their four down linemen, but Vernon also likes some of the things the team is doing in practice to generate pressure.

“With Spags, he does a great job of being creative,” Vernon explained. “A lot of creativity in the play calling that he does. Guys like it, having some kind of swag to it. Spags does a good job of that and having everyone catch on and understand the defense and what’s going on.”

The defense won’t experience the turnaround it desires by an individual’s performance. Instead, the expected progress will take place because of how all the new parts on that side of the ball play together as a unit. Vernon sees progress on that front as well.

“I think it’s going smooth,” he said. “The chemistry is building right now. It’s building blocks right now and you have to build that foundation. Have it keep going into training camp after these few weeks off and take it from there. Sky is the limit.”

Training camp is when things begin to get physical with fully padded practices and contact that is not  allowed during spring practices. Vernon will have a chance to show his physicality against the Giants’ first round pick from 2015, left tackle Ereck Flowers. He already got a taste of what it was like to play against Flowers in their regular season game last year.

“When I went against Ereck last year during the season, he’s a very talented man,” Vernon said. “He has a bright future ahead of him and we’re just trying to make each other better each and every day we go out there. Both of us can’t wait to get in pads and get this show on the road.”


The Giants hope to make a big jump in their performance and production on both sides of the ball. Olivier Vernon will play a huge role on defense, while Flowers thinks continuity on the offensive line with all five starters returning will help on the offensive side.

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“Last year was the first year that we were all together, so with the second go around we feel a lot more comfortable and things are looking better,” Flowers said.

Flowers also battled an ankle injury last season. He missed only one game, but it had a negative effect on his performance.

“You play through injuries. You wish you weren’t playing hurt, but you have to go out there and play for your team and try and win some games. I feel a lot better this year,” Flowers added.

One of the great matchups to watch during one-on-one drills at training camp will be Flowers trying to block Vernon. Ben McAdoo has stressed all offseason how competition will help his team get better.

Vernon and Flowers both hope that competition will lead to their respective units being more dominant in 2016.br />br />