Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon will join teammates Saquon Barkley and Aldrick Rosas at the Pro Bowl in Orlando on Jan. 27.
Vernon is replacing Chicago Bears pass rusher Khalil Mack (injury) and will be making the first Pro Bowl appearance of his seven-year career, the NFL announced Thursday. Vernon had originally been selected as a first alternate.
Landon Collins was voted in with Barkley and Rosas, as well, but cannot participate as he recovers from last month’s surgery on his left shoulder.
Vernon, 28, missed the first five games of this season with a high ankle sprain sustained in a late preseason practice.
But he recovered to record seven sacks and 30 tackles in 11 games, adding 21 quarterback hits, which was more than double the total of any Giants teammate. Vernon also made five tackles for loss, forced a fumble, recovered another and defended a pass.
He strip-sacked Andrew Luck in Week 16 in the red zone in what would have been a game-changing forced turnover in Indianapolis, but the play was wiped out by a Janoris Jenkins penalty downfield.
Head coach Pat Shurmur made clear in a Nov. 26 press conference that he wanted more out of Vernon, pointing out “I don’t see teams spending extra resources to block him.” Shurmur said this even though Vernon had been after the quarterback often in the prior day’s loss in Philadelphia and the Eagles had run the ball away from Vernon often.
Vernon did have only one sack to that point, though, and he responded as he got healthier with difference-making play down the stretch.