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Giants expect to get LB Olivier Vernon back against Panthers

Giants linebacker Olivier Vernon lines up during a

Giants linebacker Olivier Vernon lines up during a preseason game against the Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Aug. 24. Credit: Daniel De Mato

Sometimes it can be hard to tell how Olivier Vernon feels by looking at him. He’s fairly stoic and stone-faced, never really letting any hint of what is happening inside him creep out.

So when fellow Giants linebacker Kareem Martin said Vernon is “excited” and “ready to get back out there with us” this week against the Panthers, the natural question was: How can you tell?

“I’ve gotten a bead on him a little bit,” Martin said, smiling.

Another way to tell is from the way others are talking about Vernon. After a few weeks of crying wolf regarding his pending return to the lineup from a high ankle sprain, the Giants seem fairly certain that this will be the game in which their best pass-rusher and top linebacker finally makes his season debut. Vernon, listed as limited in practices last week when he was held to just individual drills, was listed as limited once again but participated in team reps on Wednesday.

“He means a lot to this defense,” safety Landon Collins said. “He’s a big part of it. We need him. I think he’s going to be back this week . . . He gets some sacks on the quarterback, definitely some TFLs [tackle-for-loss]. Big part of the defense.”

The Giants are also expecting the return of cornerback Eli Apple after missing two games with a groin injury. Apple was limited on Wednesday as well.

The Giants defense hasn’t been awful without them, but they should be better with them. Especially Vernon, who has yet to play a down in the new system.

"I think when you have a fresh body that has the talent, the skill, and abilities of a pass-rusher [such as Vernon], it helps your defense," Pat Shurmur said. "Certainly adding him back to the mix will help . . . A better player on the field is a good thing."

“O.V. is a great player, a game-changer type guy,” Martin said. “He’ll bring some energy to this defense. You get a player of his caliber back, you’re always excited.”

And it’s easy to tell that the Giants are just that.

Notes & quotes: WR Sterling Shepard had a cyst removed from the base of his back and did not practice on Wednesday. Pat Shurmur said the procedure will take “a day or so to get back from, otherwise he’ll be fine” . . . GM Dave Gettleman has completed treatments for lymphoma and will be able to travel with the team for the first time this season when they go to Charlotte this week. Gettleman is a former general manager of the Panthers . . . DT Damon Harrison (knee) did not practice on Wednesday. He did not practice last week, either, but played in the game.

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