Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Vernon going about business while Dolphins admire


Miami Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon's big game on Sunday got a little bit bigger on Wednesday, after the league adjusted a split sack and awarded it to Vernon.

That gave him a grand total of three quarterback takedowns during the team's 23-3 blasting of the rival New York Jets, which along with a team-leading 10 tackles was good enough to earn him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

The steady-as-she-goes second-year defensive end took news of the award not as a milestone of progress for a young, undersized pass-rushing prospect, but frankly, as if it was another day.

"I'm just trying to be the same person since day one. I haven't really done anything different," Vernon told reporters of his improvement, via the team's website. "[I'm] just capitalizing on the opportunities that have come my way."

The former Miami Hurricane exuded focused humility during the time with the media, including opening the session talking only about the team's need to win this week to stay alive in the push for the postseason. Instead, he mostly left it up to other players and coaches to take notice of his clear growth as the season has progressed.

"I couldn't be more proud," fellow starting defensive end Cameron Wake, who took home the award four weeks ago after a three sack performance of his own, said. "I've seen a guy since the day he got here put in the time, put in the effort and [now] get some of these accolades."

Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle echoed Wake's sentiments.

"When you watch him in practice, it’s not a surprise to see him having the success that he's had," Coyle told the Miami Herald. "He’s very powerful for what you might say is an undersized type pass rusher. He’s not an overly tall guy yet plays with great leverage."

Vernon leads the Dolphins and is now tied for fifth in the NFL with 10.5 sacks and has displayed a relentless motor on the field, which mirrors the effort he puts in off it.

"I'm just chipping at that rock," Vernon said, via the Sun Sentinel. "I've just been working hard since the offseason, and I've learned from the other veteran guys. I've been grinding hard."

One of those veteran guys is Wake, who Vernon admits to studying even "when he's not thinking I am." But his All Pro mentor attributes his success this season to the little things Vernon has picked up since coming into the league.

"It's being a professional," Wake said. "From the nutrition, to 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."

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