Olivier Vernon becoming a force on Dolphins’ D line
DAVIE, Fla. — Leave it to another Miami Hurricanes alum to find a flaw in Olivier Vernon’s game.
“He definitely should have a sack dance,” Miami Dolphins tackle Bryant McKinnie said of Vernon. “He seems more mellow though, but he definitely should do something.
“Guys from ‘The U’ … you look at Warren Sapp, when he used to get sacks … you make it known that you got that sack.”
If he had a routine, Vernon would be dancing a lot. The Dolphins second-year defensive end’s 10.5 sacks are tied for fifth-most in the league.
Despite the production, Vernon is not among 57 defensive ends listed on the NFL’s Pro Bowl ballot.
“It is what it is, man,” the Miami native said. “That just means it gives me more motivation to grind for next year.”
Vernon earned some recognition Wednesday, when he was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after his 10 tackles and 3 sacks in Sunday’s road win against the New York Jets.
“It feels good,” Vernon said following practice. “I’m not really a big accolade guy but if feels good to have an accomplishment under your belt.”
Although Miami selected Oregon edge rusher Dion Jordan with the No. 1 pick in April’s draft, it has been Vernon who has emerged to join Cameron Wake in giving the Dolphins quality pressure at both ends of the line.
Wake, whom Vernon calls a mentor, said he was happy for his teammate being recognized with the weekly honor “for selfish reasons as well.”
“Both guys who can cause problems for offenses,” Wake said. “They don’t know which way … if you’re going to slide left, going to slide right … you have to pick your poison. I think it helps the team as a whole.”
Wake credits Vernon with having a “pit bull” mentality on the field and maturity off it.
“From nutrition, spending time off the field — in the weight room, in the classroom — doing all the little things to make himself a better football player and obviously it shows on the field,” Wake said.
Dolphins veteran offensive tackles McKinnie and Tyson Clabo have lined up against Vernon in practice. Both have been impressed with the third-round pick in 2012.
“He has a good get off and he’s good using his hands,” McKinnie told FOX Sports Florida. “Another player I felt who uses his hands well is Jared Allen from Minnesota. Those two both use their hands well, not every defensive lineman does.”
Clabo echoed McKinnie’s sentiments, adding: “When you have strength like (Vernon) has, and your hands are in position to use well, it’s functional. It creates problems.”
Active, strong hands are not Vernon’s only assets.
“He sees rush lanes really well,” Clabo told FOX Sports Florida. “He can like feel his way through, and not everybody has that knack for finding that crease.
“When I got here, everyone talked about Cam and how good he was and how good he is, and then here comes O.V. I’m like, ‘Oh, man. This guy is pretty good, too.'”
That, despite lacking a sack dance — though Vernon was reminded he performed briefly after recovering a blocked field goal for his first career touchdown last season.
“That was predetermined. That was something with the ‘D’ line we talked about doing,” Vernon said. “Maybe I’ll think of something. Maybe me and Cam will work on that since he’s my mentor.”