Tandem time: Bucs need CBs Verner, Banks to grow togetherThe Bucs are expecting big things from Verner and Banks this season, according to defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. JASON BEHNKEN/STAFFBy Ira Kaufman | Tribune Staff Published: August 13, 2015 TAMPA — If they stay healthy and the Buccaneers can cobble together a persistent pass rush, Alterraun Verner and Johnthan Banks could represent double trouble for opposing receivers this fall.Tampa Bay’s starting cornerback tandem has enjoyed a stellar training camp while schooling rookie quarterback Jameis Winston about what throws will and won’t work at the NFL level.“I like us against anybody,” Verner said of a young duo determined to key a defensive turnaround. “Johnthan is steadily improving and he’s very coachable. He has great ball skills and he has the size and, to me, the speed to guard anybody.”After signing as a free agent from Tennessee in 2014, Verner was hampered by a hamstring injury that limited him to one preseason game. Coming off a Pro Bowl season for the Titans, Verner found himself physically challenged most of the year while intercepting only two passes for the Bucs.Verner, 26, was effective in run support with 75 tackles and two forced fumbles. Now healthy and motivated, Verner is eager to show teammates and coaches the skills that gained him respect in Nashville.“I feel like I’ve been getting back into the form that I’m accustomed to,” Verner said.Banks, 25, has ideal length at 6-foot-2 and he led the Bucs with four picks last season, topping the team with 10 passes defensed. A second-round pick in 2013, Banks played the most consistent football of his career down the stretch for a 2-14 club.“I’m still growing, learning how to ball,” said Banks, who has the size to match up against NFC South receivers like Atlanta’s Julio Jones, Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin and Marques Colston of the Saints. ”I’m just buying into the system and having fun. I’m confident in myself and my abilities, and that’s carrying over, allowing me to make plays and letting me be successful in this game.”Banks and Verner know they have a long way to go in establishing Tampa Bay as a defensive club head coach Lovie Smith can be proud of. Opposing quarterbacks completed 68.7 percent of their attempts last year, the most generous mark in the league, while posting a 97.4 passer rating.“Alterraun last year was nursing a hamstring and missed a lot of work, but he is out there now,” Smith said. “He has excellent quickness, very bright. Johnthan Banks, of course, made some good plays last year.”Also in the mix at corner are veteran Mike Jenkins, a former University of South Florida standout, and Sterling Moore, signed from Dallas as a free agent.Every NFL coach will tell you that pass defense is a combination of rush and coverage. The addition of defensive end George Johnson could provide the Bucs with more pressure off the edge, and don’t be surprised if outside linebacker Lavonte David is freed up to blitz more often this fall.Verner and Banks are hoping to pounce if quarterbacks are chased out of their comfort zone.“We are expecting big things from Banks and Verner,” defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. “We need those guys to play big for us. It’s hard to be successful in our league without your corners being able to play man, as well as zone, and we need them to play big. That will depend on how our defensive line plays, as well. The fact it will be their second season in our program, it should be a chance for them to grow and develop.”email@example.com(813) 259-7833Twitter: @IKaufmanTBO
Blah, blah, blah. Win a third game already, then maybe talk about "your improvement."These guys are third on my sh1tlist, right below people who are gone from the ol, and the sh1tty "kick specalist.They became better towards the seasons end, but they werent "good" for a good portion of the season either.Outside of the slow improvement, banks was providing a spark now and then. But that was about all there was to talk about. I have high hopes for banks, but damnit, none of them should be talking at all. After a two win season, im just not in the mood for anymore "talk." Go out and just do.
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