Olivier Vernon was not visibly limping as he walked out of the locker room on Friday, but he was wearing a sneaker on his right foot and a shower sandal on his left, which indicated all is not yet well with his injured left ankle.
That and the fact that for the third week in a row the Giants declared him out, this time for Sunday’s visit to the Texans.
That is a problem when you are 0-2 and the veteran linebacker is one of your most important defensive players.
But there might be a glimmer of hope ahead. Vernon mostly stuck to company policy by referring all questions about his status to coach Pat Shurmur. But when asked what he has been doing to get back on the field, he said this:
“It’s all type of different variations of workouts, and everything seems to be helping, so they’re doing something right.”
That was about it, though. He deferred to Shurmur on whether he is close to returning, whether he has been doing more in practice, whether he will travel with the team, and even about the fine for talking about any or all of the above.
Finally, Vernon was asked how this ankle injury compares to one he had last season, and he cracked a smile when he said, “You have to ask Coach Shurmur about that one. He wasn’t even here, so I don’t know how he’s going to have an answer for you.”
Connor Barwin and rookie Lorenzo Carter have been getting most of what would be Vernon’s reps, something the seven-year veteran said will benefit Carter’s development.
But the Giants would prefer the real thing, as would Vernon, who has been out of action for nearly a month.
“All you can do is take your time and try to get yourself ready, try to get yourself back, physically, mentally, and go from there,” he said.
Asked about his frustration at having been injured to start the season, he said, “That’s football. You’re always going to have ups and downs . . . Not everything is just going to be smooth.
“There are going to be all different types of paths along the way. This is just my path right now. Just have to fix it and be all right.”
When asked how badly the Giants need a win Sunday, Vernon said, “How bad you think we need a win Sunday? C’mon, man, we obviously need a win . . . Ain’t nobody panicking. Everybody’s feeling good, feeling great.”
The hope is that by this time next week, Vernon will be saying the same thing about his left ankle.
Notes & quotes: Cornerback Eli Apple (groin) is out. Tight end Evan Engram (ankle) practiced fully … Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (back) practiced fully Friday and is expected to play . . . General manager Dave Gettleman, who has undergone treatment for lymphoma, was at practice and said his recovery is progressing well. “I feel pretty good,” he said…Shurmur, whose public demeanor is consistently calm, said that is not always the case behind closed doors. “I think my personality is such where I tell [the players] what I think and when I add emotion to it, that’s my business and that’s their business, that’s not \[reporters’\] business.”