has a second chance in Tampa. He recently spoke about last year’s problems as well as what to expect moving forward.
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It’s no secret that corner Alterraun Verner may be the odd man out come time the 53-man roster is announced. That’s not stopping him from preparing like he will be a day one starter. Honestly, that’s the best thing Bucs fans can hope for.
Verner has been given a second chance, a “bonus life”, after last season’s cornerback debacle. As the highest paid corner on the team, he has a base salary of $6.75-million this season, it should be a no brainer that Verner would start. However, that isn’t the case. Verner is out there trying to earn his job back and make the team. Reuniting with former Titans’ secondary coach Jon Hoke bodes well, considering Verner got to a Pro Bowl under his direction.
Verner spoke out about some of the problems last season recently;
"“I wouldn’t say it was difficult because that’s life. You never know what life is going to throw at you. I mean you might lose your arm, you might lose your leg. You can’t sit around and complain about it. You have to be able to make the best of that situation and you know that’s all it was. I love playing this game. I love playing this game of football, so no matter what happens I’m going to put my best foot forward, so I wouldn’t say it was difficult. I would probably say more frustrating being a competitor and you want to be out there, but I wouldn’t say it was a difficult situation. I was still on the team, I was still helping out when I could in the best way I can.”Aug 24, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Alterraun Verner (21) celebrates after he intercepted the ball and ran it in for a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports"
He went on to discuss if it was difficult in the secondary with the constant rotation of corners, never knowing who was going to be where;
"“Yeah, it was, but as professional athletes you have to be ready when your number is called like Jude [Adjei-Barimah] and Sterling [Moore] were and they played the way they did and sometimes you have something happen and you fall down like others have, including myself, so it’s just a professional game. You’re up and you’re down, but just like at corner you have to have a short memory and you can’t dwell on the past and just move forward.”"
Verner is a good player and is working hard to regain his Pro Bowl level success. As many of the players are, he’s excited about the new direction, the new schemes, the new style this Buccaneers’ defense will flash come 2016;
"“I think it’s going to be like ten percent of everything. I don’t think it’s going to be a high percentage of one thing, just based off the calls and things like this, but I just think he [defensive coordinator Mike Smith] is just trying to get a feel for how we respond to things right now. I don’t know, like I said, how game day is going to be or how game planning is going to be for certain teams, but you’ll get a little bit of everything. You’ll be in man, you’ll be in press, you’ll be off, you might be trapping, you might be rolling coverage, you might be deep, short. I mean, 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 because they’re not going to know what’s coming. I think you can see that from Jameis [Winston] out here where he kind of has to look, look, look which is a good thing for him because he’s getting used to it and then it’s a good thing for us to try to disguise it for him because he’s a smart football player. He’s a smart guy, even going into his second year, so for us to try to get that confusion in him is going to help us translate on the field.”"
The new regime is pushing these players, extracting every ounce of talent they can out of them. There’s no reason to think they can’t get Verner back to a starting caliber corner. Given the depth this team now has at corner with the additions of Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves and retaining Johnthan Banks, they’ll be able to match up with anyone if Verner and Banks can return to form.
It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how this cornerback group shakes out as we exit OTAs and move into mini-camp, training camp, then pre-season. The corners might have the best, most entertaining position battles on the whole team.
And that might be exactly what Alterraun Verner needs to get over his slump.