EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants will have a defensive player in the Pro Bowl after all.
The NFL today announced that linebacker Olivier Vernon has been named to the NFC Pro Bowl team. He will replace Chicago’s Khalil Mack, who is unable to participate due to injury.
Vernon will join two Giants teammates – rookie running back Saquon Barkley and kicker Aldrick Rosas – at the game. Safety Landon Collins was also selected, but underwent shoulder surgery last month and will not play in the Pro Bowl for the second straight year.
This is the first Pro Bowl selection for Vernon, who recently completed his seventh season in the NFL and third with the Giants.
After missing the first five games with an ankle injury suffered in practice during the preseason, Vernon started each of the final 11 games. He finished with a team-high 7.0 sacks, including 2.5 in the season finale vs. Dallas. It was the second time in his three Giants seasons he led the team in sacks.
Vernon finished the season with 30 tackles (23 solo), 21 quarterback hits (more than double the total of any teammate), five tackles for losses, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and one pass defensed.
Vernon’s 51.0 career sacks place him 26th among active players. Ironically, he is just behind Mack, who has 53.0 sacks.
Vernon will be the first Giants linebacker to play in the Pro Bowl since Antonio Pierce in 2006, and the first outside linebacker since Jessie Armstead made the last of his five consecutive trips in 2001.
Vernon joined the Giants as a free agent in 2016, when he started all 16 games and led an 11-5 Giants team with 8.5 sacks. He entered the NFL has a third-round draft choice by his hometown Miami Dolphins in 2012, following a stellar career at the University of Miami.