ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For
The 2009 NFL sack leader missed all of last season due to injury, and was anxious to return to form this year.
But a shoulder injury caused him to miss two games early in the season, and most recently an ankle injury suffered against the Dolphins has given him trouble.
"Sometimes you get off the ball and feel good but as you lean and put your body weight on the ankle, doing anything can become a little uncomfortable," Dumervil said Thursday.
In a conference call on Wednesday, Oakland defensive lineman Richard Seymour said he can empathize.
“It’s tough," he said. "I look at defensive line as one of the toughest positions in all of sports, especially if you’re the total package in terms of the run stopper and pass rusher. You’re playing all situations whether it’s third down, goal-line situations, first-and-10. It’s a tough position to play, but if you want to be the best and you have aspirations of being an every down player and want to be the best at your position, I think it’s always tough. This time of year, pretty much everyone has something nagging on them or something banged up."
Battling those injuries, Dumervil has yet to record a sack in 2011. But he hasn't let that slow his drive.
“I just sense a guy that’s continued to come to work every day," Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen said. "I don’t think he’s worried about the sacks, necessarily. I think he, like a lot of people in that locker room, wants to win games, and we’re trying to do everything we can do win games.”
As for his first sack of the season, Dumervil said "it'll come." In the mean time, he has focused on becoming a better run stopper, chipping in eight tackles this season. He's been around the quarterback, registering a hit on Green Bay Packers signal caller Aaron Rodgers in Week 4.
And when that first sack comes, Allen said more will quickly follow.
“They do come in bunches, just like everything else in the league," Allen said. "People get on rolls, and just like anything else you do in your life, sometimes you just get that good feeling, and things kind of work the right way, and sometimes that happens in football. As far as Elvis specifically, he’s going to get his sacks; they’re going to come, and the thing he’s got to do is just go out there and keep competing every day, and eventually those will come.”
The defensive end's coaches have been impressed with how he has responded to adversity so far this season.
Head Coach John Fox said he doesn't concern himself with sack numbers. In Carolina, he often had to address the topic when reporters would ask whether Julius Peppers was having an off season if he didn't have double-digit quarterback takedowns.
"I think Elvis is doing fine," Fox said. "He’s making good progress. So much is made of sacks, and that defines how you play the defensive end position or a pass rushing position, and really, there’s a lot more to it than that. Guys I’ve had in the past, [former New York Giants DE] Mike Strahan probably had the lowest sack total but probably had his best season, and we went to a Super Bowl. Sometimes sacks are made too much of. We feel a lot better with him than without him.”
Dumervil, who said he feels good other than his ankle, isn't letting the sack drought get him down.
"As a competitor you’re always frustrated but as a professional you’ve got to be able to get yourself out of frustration," Dumervil said Thursday. "That’s inevitable and things aren’t always going to go the way you want them to go. But it’s not what happens, it's how you respond."