ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Elvis Dumervil has collected more injuries (three) than sacks (zero) since signing his $58 million extension two years ago.
After missing all of last season with a torn chest muscle, Dumervil was dogged by an injured left shoulder over the first month of this season that rendered him a one-armed pass-rusher. Just when that healed, the Denver Broncos defensive end sustained a high right ankle sprain two weeks ago against Miami.
"It's just one last thing I'm trying to get over," said Dumervil, still searching for his first sack since leading the league with 17 of them in 2009. "My shoulder feels real good, so that's a plus. But my ankle; high ankle sprains are something that takes time."
And limit one's effectiveness.
Dumervil has just eight tackles and one quarterback hit so far after his solid training camp that had the Broncos excited about their "Doom and Gloom" duo of Dumervil and rookie linebacker Von Miller.
Miller has a-half dozen sacks, but he'd be even more effective if Dumervil could return to form.
"Football is all timing and practice and preparation," Dumervil said. "So the less I can do those things at 100 percent, the more it affects your game, the timing. I mean, it can be one-tenth of a second (off). Like last week, I just missed a sack. Things like that, it's tedious, you know? You've just got to keep working, man, and grind it out and just try to finish strong."
Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen says he doesn't notice any discouragement in Dumervil.
"I just sense a guy that's continued to come to work every day," Allen said. "I don't think he's necessarily worried about the sacks. Him, like a lot of people in that locker room, they want to win football games, and we're trying to do everything we can to win games."
Still, Dumervil acknowledged the paltry stats and lack of sacks bother him.
"As a competitor you're always frustrated, but as a professional you have be able to get yourself out of frustration," Dumervil said. "It's inevitable, you're going to be frustrated when things aren't going the way you want them to go. But it's how you respond. That's the professional part of it."
And, he said, at least he's able to play through this year's injuries.
"Yeah, that's huge. I was tired of missing games. That's why I'm not complaining too much," Dumervil said. "Because at least I'm getting those reps. The more I play, the more comfortable I get, and once this ankle heals completely, I'll get rolling."
Dumervil parlayed his breakout 2009 season into a five-year, $58.332 million extension that included $43.168 million in guarantees against injury, a record for a player at his position. But he was injured less than two weeks later and hasn't ever been the same.
He returned to action this summer and went back to being a classic 4-3 defensive end under Fox after serving as a stand-up outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme preferred by former coach Josh McDaniels.
Dumervil said the position switch has nothing to do with his scanty stats.
"It makes it difficult, just the nagging injuries. But in preseason I felt good (playing in the 4-3) I felt like I was playing at a high level," Dumervil said. "Sometimes you just have to get your body right, man. That's been the biggest issue for me. I think the style of play, what we do, is good still. I've just got to continue to do work and get right."
Despite his diminutive stature — 5-foot-11 and 248 pounds — Dumervil's extraordinarily long arms and low center of gravity make him difficult to defend as he has built-in leverage against almost anybody he faces.
But his injuries have prevented him from adding to the 43 sacks he collected in his first four NFL seasons after the Broncos drafted him out of Louisville in 2006.
Fox appeared perturbed when the subject came up this week.Comment on this story
"He's missed time. He missed the whole season a year ago, so 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 ... 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 said that despite his injuries, he thinks he's a better run-defender now. But he knows he's not making millions to stop running backs, but to get to the quarterback and collect sacks.
"At my position ... that's the hidden stat, and that's what I am, a stat guy," Dumervil said. "But it'll come."
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton