Bucs CB Alterraun Verner - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The 2015 season was perhaps the toughest for Alterraun Verner over his six-year career.
After being moved to the nickel cornerback role, the former Pro Bowler – who signed a four-year, $24 million deal in 2014 as an effective replacement for Darrelle Revis – was demoted to special teams for the bulk of the latter half of the year. It was one of the more surprising moves during 2015’s game of musical chairs in the secondary.
Still, despite his sudden benching, Verner remained positive throughout the season, accepting the decision and vowing to support his team in any capacity.
“Whatever my role is which, right now, seems like is special teams and what not, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability,” Verner said back in October. “As a competitor, you hate it. But at the end of the day we want to get wins, and I’m going to do whatever I can to do that.”
Bucs CB Alterraun Verner – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Fast forward to 2016 – where it appears Verner’s been given a clean slate and is the favorite to earn a starting job – the 27-year old corner is consistent in his assessment of last season. While he admitted he didn’t think he was given a fair shot, he knew the decision was made with good intention and still wanted to contribute.
“You have to make the best of the situation,” Verner said Thursday. “That’s all it was. At the end of the day, I love this game. I love the game of football. No matter what happens, I’m going to put my best foot forward.”
Verner described the whirlwind season as more “frustrating” than “difficult”, saying that he’s appreciative of the coaches’ trust in him, no matter what position they believe he’s best suited for. To that point, Verner doesn’t blame Lovie Smith, adding, “(Lovie) was doing was what he felt was best for the team in that situation, so I can’t be mad about that as a player… You have to do the job you’re asked to do.”
Verner has put the past behind him and is focused on the 2016 season now. He’s excited to learn Mike Smith’s defense, one he said will have variety and allow defensive backs to get creative.
“I think it’s going to be 10 percent of everything,” Verner said of the new defense, adding that Mike Smith is still getting a feel for his personnel. “I don’t know right now how game planning is going to be for certain things, but you’ve been getting a little bit of everything – you’ve been man, you’ve been press, you might be trapping, and you might be rolling coverage deep, short. I just basically said everything, but that’s kind of what this defense does, and that’s what’s going to make it harder for offenses.”
And making it harder for offenses, Verner said, will better prepare Jameis Winston and the Bucs’ unit this summer. It’s a win-win.
“They’re not going to know what’s coming,” Verner said. “I think you see that from Jameis out here, where he has to kind of look, look, look, look – which is good for him because he’ll get used to it. And then it’s good for us to try to disguise it from him because he’s a smart football player. So for us to have to try to confuse him is going to help us translate on the field.”
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]
Lovie effectively benching Verner is one of the weirdest of the dumb things from his tenure. He’s a talented guy. In last year’s secondary, there’s absolutely no way that he wasn’t one of the best 3 corners we had. No way. The length of that ridiculous game of musical chairs among our corners still blows my mind. The whole way that secondary was handled – the way we made personnel decisions, the techniques our corners were coached to play, the way the team separated safeties and corners for ALL position meetings – it’s one of the biggest indictments of Lovie, IMO.
Trying to cover for his son.
I suspect the more veteran cornerbacks were questioning what they were being coached to do and got benched for not complying. Could also be that the coaches wanted to blame the players for their own failed “system”.
Lets just move on from Lovie. Hope this guy gets it together again. He was pretty good before we got him. Smith will put players in position of THEIR strength which should help.
I hope the new defense comes together quickly.
I’m excited to see this new defense on the field! I know it’s all hype at this point but to me, having all the players on board the way they seem to be is a great sign of things to come.
Between Verner, Banks, and VH3 we’ve got solid coverage in the secondary. Abdjei-Barimah showed promise as well last year and I’m anxious to see his development in the new system. I still say we should’ve held onto Moore but not gonna cry over spilled milk at this point.
Our much maligned safeties aren’t as bad as they’re made out to be either. I believe Conte/McDougald showed decent production last year under a failed scheme. I hope to see much more from them this year
The key for our Safeties is that they are not being coached by Lovie Dovies’s Son. The Glaziers should have a strict no nepotism rule. That could have helped stopping Warhop from giving a job to his son this year too instead of a more talented offensive lineman. I am happy with our Safeties we have now. I frankly think we should give Tandy a shot at starting some this year. He has good speed and is a great special team’s player and has always played well when he has played Safety and is a good tackler too. Also we have flexibility with him too in that he played CB in College and could play well at CB if needed there in a pinch too. Major Wright was helpful under Lovie because he knew Tampa 2 from playing in Chicago, but he likely has lost some speed and might easily be replaced by our rookie draft pick who will also compete to run back kicks so you know he is faster than Major Wright and should be a candidate for Free Safety. Conte is a hard hitter and should play Strong Safety.
“The key for our Safeties is that they are not being coached by Lovie Dovies’s Son. The Glaziers should have a strict no nepotism rule.” Very wise words owlycat.
Hope Verner returns to Prow Bowl form. I think Grimes has some gas left in the tank, and I can’t wait to see Hargreaves play.
It’s amazing to think about the corners Lovie couldn’t make work in his system. Revis, Verner, and Banks. Heck even Leonard Johnson looked like a decent nickel and dime corner under Schiano.
I heard one of you guys from Pewter Report on NFL Sirrus today but was unable to listen to the broadcast because I was working.
Could you post the interview so we can all enjoy it. I forget who was being interviewed but he was very eloquent about the horrible shootings in Orlando today and I want to commend him for his words.
Mark Cook @MarkCook1970 7h7 hours ago
Mark Cook Retweeted SiriusXM NFL Radio
I’ll be on The End Zone show on Sirius XM NFL radio at noon today talking Bucs football.
I hope that the Coaching staff should put him into a familar position before all the move around. If it doesn’t work out another young corner will replace hgim.
I hope the change of coaching lets all the players look back and be happy for the change of top leadership. For some reason I think the players might have bear a portion of responsibility – we will see.
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