When the Buccaneers signed Alterraun Verner in 2014 they thought they were getting a Pro Bowl cornerback, and that’s exactly what the former UCLA standout was in Tennessee. Verner made the Pro Bowl in his fourth year with the Titans after breaking up an astonishing 22 passes in 2013 along with a career-high five interceptions and a pick-six during his lone Pro Bowl season. A willing tackler in run support, evidenced by a career-high 101 tackles as a rookie in 2010, Verner was deemed to be a good fit for Lovie Smith’s Tampa 2 scheme.
But in his first two years in Tampa Bay, Verner has underwhelmed and disappointed with just 13 pass breakups and three interceptions combined. Now playing in a much more familiar scheme similar to the one that he thrived in with the Titans, Verner is out to prove to himself, the Bucs organization and the fans that he can get back to playing at a Pro Bowl level.
Bucs CBs Alterraun Verner and Brent Grimes – Photo: Cliff Welch/PR
Verner was one of the stars in the offseason, starting at right cornerback opposite Brent Grimes and keeping Johnthan Banks, another defensive back looking for a bounce-back year, on the second team during the OTAs and mini-camp. Can Verner continue his stellar play once the pads come on in training camp? Can he live up to his contract, which pays him $6.75 million this season – up from the $4.25 million he made a year ago?
The pressure is on in training camp as Verner not only wants to prove his worth, but prove that he can once again be one of the better playmaking cornerbacks in the NFL. There is no doubt that this is the biggest training camp in Verner’s NFL career. With multiple entries over the next four weeks, Verner will be sharing his training camp story exclusively with PewterReport.com readers in his Bucs Camp Diary. Follow along as Verner attempts to hold on to his starting right cornerback spot and sheds light on Tampa Bay’s revamped secondary, which includes the arrival of cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, the Bucs’ first-round pick.
WE’RE GETTING MORE PICKS THIS YEAR
By Alterraun Verner as told to Scott Reynolds
It’s been a good first week of training camp and I’ve been getting some good work in. We had a day off on Tuesday and my family and I we went to the beach. I slept a lot! That’s really all I did at the beach. Then we went back to the hotel and didn’t do too much. I usually try to get a round of golfing in on my day off, but my body told me, ‘If you try to swing a club right now I’m going to beat you up!’ So I decided to go head and get a tan and sleep instead.
The offense has really been challenging us during camp, and we’re still trying to get the playbook all the way down, but it’s been good it’s been fun competing and really trying to work and makes some plays out here. Chris Conte had a couple of picks [on Saturday], so that was good to see. We’re getting more picks this year, and that’s good to see.
Bucs WR Vincent Jackson – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
We got a lot of red zone work in over the last couple of days. I made a nice pass breakup on Vincent Jackson on a play I knew was coming. It was reminiscent to the play he made when he won the game for us in Pittsburgh. It was a similar play, so I had a feeling when he made that move that there was a good chance he would go back. It was the same thing he did to me over there where they got me for a flag.
We have some work to do in the red zone with those big targets we have down there with Vincent, Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. It’s just going to make us better for the regular season going against those guys.
I love playing red zone defense for multiple reasons. First, it’s not that much running, so you don’t have to worry about running 40 yards down the field every play. The other reason is it’s exciting from a fan’s perspective to be down there. Either we stop them or they score, so your competitive juices are going.
You don’t want to be put on that highlight play where fans are going “Oooh,” so it’s definitely fun. I look at it like a challenge because if you get a pick down there I think it means more down here then it does anywhere else on the field. It essentially takes points off the board.
Jameis Winston has had a good week, even if he makes the defense look bad at times. I kind of been noticing it throughout camp the type of passes he’s able to throw and complete. It does bring a smile to my face – even though we may lose a practice period – because a couple times I feel like I had great coverage but he just threw a really good ball in there and let the receiver make a play.
Bucs CB Alterraun Verner and Brent Grimes – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
It makes me smile because it’s like he’s getting ready for the season and we’re going to get more points in the red zone with seven this year instead of having to kick more field goals. That helps our team win. Also, on our end, it’s making up better because we can try to stop red zone offenses when we’re on the field. So it’s definitely a win-win.
Brent Grimes has been the star for us in the secondary. He and Chris Conte are leading us in picks because I’ve dropped all mine! Well, except for one. Brent and I probably have gotten our hands on the ball the most, but he’s made his count. He’s been as good as advertised.
That guy is so athletic. It’s so ridiculous to see him coming out his break covering just everything. I don’t think he’s necessary going as hard as he could, too, and he still out here making plays. I think he’ll turn it up a notch when the regular season is here.
On offense, aside from our top three guys (Evans, Jackson and Adam Humphries), Jonathan Krause and Freddie Martino are looking really, really good. Especially, Krause since he came to us late. Martino is making plays, too.
I like how Coach Koetter has been straight with the media. We saw that all last year with him, and it’s refreshing because you know that he’s not going to lead you on, or in the wrong direction, or give you a false scene of hope. If he tells you that you have chance or you competing for a spot, you better believe you are competing for it. It’s definitely refreshing to have that in a coach.
Bucs CB Alterraun Verner and WR Adam Humphries – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Coach Koetter named Adam Humphries as the slot receiver this week, and that’s a good thing. Adam is definitely a constant out there and you know what you are going to get from Adam Humphries day-in and day-out. You know you’re going to get somebody that’s going to run a clean route and you know he’s going to get to the right spot. More times than not if the ball hits his hands he’s going to catch it.
I love going against Adam because you know you’re going to get the best from him even off the line. The thing about him is he’s going to keep on working because he’s probably not even satisfied with getting that position. I’m looking forward to him to do some good things this year and giving us good work in training camp this year.
Follow Alterraun Verner on Twitter at @Alvern_1 and on Instagram at ATV1UCLA.
Be sure to visit PewterReport.com multiple times throughout the day during training camp for new stories and updates from practice live from One Buccaneer Place, and follow us on Twitter at @PewterReport.
Read more exclusive Verner’s Bucs Training Camp Diaries on PewterReport.com right here:
First Installment – Verner’s Bucs Training Camp Diary: “I’ve Got A Lot To Prove”
Second Installment – Verner’s Bucs Training Camp Diary: “Big Hits Help Set The Tone”
Thanks Alteraun for the update. Good to know everyone is playing hard and are focused. Go Bucs!
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