When the Buccaneers signed cornerback Alterraun Verner in free agency last March, the team envisioned him being the cornerstone of the secondary in its Tampa 2 scheme. So far the team has gotten little return on its investment, as the former Titans Pro Bowler has been hampered by a hamstring injury that happened early in training camp. But Verner is closer to finally getting on the field and could see game action this Saturday as Tampa Bay travels to Buffalo to take on the Bills.
“I feel fine but we will see as we increase my reps during practice and see how I respond,” Verner said. “But I wouldn’t want to say it’s 100 percent I will be playing (Saturday), we have to do what is best and see how I feel. But if I do play I can’t tell you how long. I’m willing to play as long as they need me to play and I look forward to being out there. Hopefully everything holds up so I can play.”
While Verner does have some experience playing in zone coverage, he knows there is no substitute for being on the field learning the system of head coach Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.
“(I’ve) just been watching film and talking to the coaches,” Verner said. “The only people that are really good at what we’re doing are the coaches because they’ve been in this system and have been a part of this system. A lot of us, other than Major Wright, haven’t been part of this system. So (I’ve been) watching film, talking to them and picking their brains on what is expected to be ran against us in this type of (scheme). That’s why I’ve been watching a lot of Bears film, to see how teams attacked them. It’s just mainly film work and mental reps.”
The coaching and training staff have been careful with Verner and his hamstring and Verner says playing Saturday will depend on how it goes in practice this week.
“It’s definitely progressing but it’s one of those things that’s hard to tell unless you’re actually doing something,” Verner said. “I mean, just walking around is no problem. But a full go and having to make a quick reactions; that’s something I can’t tell until I am actually at practice.”
The former UCLA Bruin star, who has 11 career NFL interceptions, was on the practice field Tuesday and likes what he has seen from the Bucs defense through two preseason games.
“I think they have played really well,” Verner said. “I’m not surprised how certain things have been happening. I think certain things are going to start opening up once we play more together and when we play a whole game. You see flashes here and there of potential to be really good. And I still hold that we are going to be really good on that unit.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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