EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants will be without their top pass-rusher Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars as outside linebacker Olivier Vernon has been ruled out with an ankle injury.
Coach Pat Shurmur said Tuesday in a radio interview that Vernon was dealing with a high ankle sprain. Vernon did not practice at all this week, even after some initial optimism that he would be able to play in the season opener.
Vernon was injured in practice on Aug. 27. He was taken inside on a cart and hasn't practiced since.
Next week could also be in doubt. Vernon missed four games and five weeks last season with a high ankle sprain.
"We'll just worry about it week to week. He's making great progress. So we'll just have to see," Shurmur said. "Obviously you'd like to have [Vernon] on the field."
His absence severely weakens the team's pass rush. Vernon and veteran Connor Barwin, signed earlier this summer, are the only two players on the roster to ever top three sacks in a season.
Barwin is likely to start in Vernon's place at outside linebacker.
"A lot of people are going to get reps, and me and [Lorenzo] are going to play," Barwin said. "I'm excited to see what Zo does, and I'm excited to see what I can do, and we're going to help each other throughout the game."
The Giants and Vernon elected to play it safe this week, especially after what happened last year. Vernon hurt his ankle in a Week 3 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He tried to play the following week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but did not make it through the contest. That ankle injury kept him out of the Giants' next four games.
Vernon had 6.5 sacks in 12 games last season. He had 8.5 in his first season with the Giants after signing a five-year, $85 million deal as a free agent in 2016.
His absence immediately thrusts Carter into a bigger role.
"I feel like I'll be used however the coaches want. I don't think they'll just put me in on third downs," said Carter, a third-round pick out of Georgia. "They see I can be a complete player and they expect that from me."