Miami Dolphins’ Olivier Vernon excited about opening against Patriots

Linebacker Olivier Vernon sacks quarterback Matt Simms in the fourth quarter of the game with the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands on December 1, 2013.
Linebacker Olivier Vernon sacks quarterback Matt Simms in the fourth quarter of the game with the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands on December 1, 2013.
Joe Rimkus Jr. / Staff Photo

Excited about the Dolphins’ season opener against the Patriots? You’ve got nothing on Olivier Vernon.

The Dolphins defensive end, appearing on 790 The Ticket last week, said that he circled the date (Sept. 7, at Sun Life Stadium) as soon he got his hands on the schedule.

“What really got my blood pumping is that we got New England on the first game of the season,” Vernon said. “I’m just really excited to start it off with a bang, with a conference game.”

There’s a reason Vernon, who had a breakout season in 2013 with 11.5 sacks, sounds so eager. Part of him is still stewing about the way the previous season ended.

The Dolphins would have made the playoffs if they had beaten either the Bills or the Jets in the final two weeks of the season. They lost to them both, and within two weeks, general manager Jeff Ireland and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman were both out of a job.

When asked if the bad taste was yet out of his mouth, Vernon responded: “They never really leave until the season’s right around the corner, the season starts, and you have another crack at it.”

Vernon said it’s essential that the team remain “on the same page” and finish the games that got away from it a year ago.

The work on that began this week with the start of the team’s offseason conditioning program.

Vernon made it a point to praise the effort of Dion Jordan, the draft’s No. 3 pick a year ago who finished his rookie season with just two sacks.

Jordan has been a fixture in the film room this spring, “soaking everything up like a sponge,” Vernon said.

And yet, Jordan might again have trouble seeing the field if Vernon continues making plays. The two both play defensive end, and Cameron Wake isn’t going anywhere.

So what does Vernon do for an encore? He wouldn’t disclose his goals but did say that “15’s pretty good,” referring to a possible sack total in 2014.

Fifteen sacks would almost certainly put him into the Pro Bowl, which would be sweet, considering he wasn’t even on the ballot last year. His rise was so unexpected, it caught the league by surprise.

“There’s a lot of guys that before me, they’ve had great seasons and they didn’t make it to the Pro Bowl that year,” Vernon said. “That just adds more fuel to the fire. Can’t wait until this year and see all that work I put in show on the field.”

• The Seattle Seahawks added Ireland to bolster its predraft preparation, Fox Sports reported. Ireland is serving as a consultant, and the Seahawks will discuss the possibility of a full-time role after the draft.

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