After being sidelined for the past two weeks against Atlanta and Washington, the Buccaneers are hopeful that cornerback Alterraun Verner will be back in the starting lineup this weekend as they take on the Chicago Bears.
“I was able to open up a lot more this week,” Verner, who’s been nursing a hamstring injury, said after Friday’s practice. “I’m looking forward to hopefully being out there this week.”
Through the first eight games of the season, Verner struggled to perform up to the 2013 Pro Bowl status that led the Buccaneers to lure him away from Tennessee and essentially replace Darrelle Revis. But if there is a good time to prove yourself as a capable Cover 2 corner, this Sunday against the Bears version of the “Dunkaneers” would be a good place to start.
“Obviously the two outside guys [Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey] present a challenge with how big they are,” Verner said. “I played against Marshall in 2012 and Alshon was actually hurt that game and they killed us. They get the football and they make a lot of plays. It’s a big challenge for us. We’ve got to show up in the back.”
While much has been made this week about containing the dangerous receiving corps, Chicago is also home to one of the league’s most dynamic running backs. Verner is aware of the unique challenge Matt Forte presents and won’t overlook the Bears’ running and screen game.
“Their skill positions are very, very good,” Verner said. “You can’t sleep on Matt Forte, the guy’s elusive. He can catch the ball, run the ball – I think he’s one of the most under-appreciated people in the NFL. I think he’s one of the best guys out there.”
At the end of the day, though, everything for the Buccaneers defense will come down to continuity. From back-end players containing the receivers, to the front four pressuring Cutler, it’s essential for the Buccaneers to have their rush and coverage working together.
“The defensive line, you see them going, and we’ve got to be able to make plays on the ball,” Verner said. “[We have] to cause the quarterback to hesitate to help the defensive line.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
I’m actually more worried about Forte than Marshall and Jeffery. Forte killed us the last time we played the Bears. He has a unique style that he runs with that I haven’t seen with any other NFL RB. He’s not the best RB in the league, but he moves differently than anyone else. The only way I can describe it is “misleading”. The entire defense better be ready to play on Sunday, not just Verner.
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