The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are suddenly very thin at the cornerback position, as fifth-year pro Alterraun Verner is questionable to play vs. the Bears.
Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times has the latest on Verner:
Verner was brought to Tampa Bay as the ostensible replacement for Darrelle Revis, whom the Bucs released in March. Although Revis was still on the team when Verner signed his four-year, $25.75 million contract (per Spotrac), his arrival gave the Bucs the assurance they needed in the secondary to allow Revis to depart.
In 2014, Verner has amassed 46 tackles, six passes defensed and one interception. Opposing quarterbacks have a collective 100.9 rating against the Bucs this season, and the team is giving up 266 passing yards per game, via ESPN.com.
Verner is coming off four impressive seasons with the Tennessee Titans, where he improved his game with each passing year and eventually established himself as one of the top cover cornerbacks in the league.
The former UCLA standout made his first Pro Bowl appearance in 2013, amassing 57 combined tackles, 23 passes defensed and five interceptions, per Pro-Football-Reference.com.
He clearly impressed FoxSports.com's Peter Schrager, who named him one of the NFL's top five corners in July 2014:
Verner was bullish this offseason on his new team's chances of turning into a top-tier defense with his efforts, per The Tampa Tribune's Ira Kaufman:
He came in with a sterling resume but unfortunately had very little opportunity to show Bucs fans he was worth the investment in the preseason, as he battled a nagging hamstring injury. Verner commented on his frustrations prior to the regular season, via ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas:
You spend so much time together and you see things happen and you know what they want from us. You can get a lot of mental reps. But there’s something different about being in a game and making the tackle and hitting somebody. It’s definitely been frustrating.
That injury definitely cost him valuable early reps with his new team. Hopefully, this current setback won't throw the team's secondary into complete disarray.
Verner's potential absence could put considerable pressure on second-year corner Johnthan Banks as well as rookie Brandon Dixon.
A front seven led by standout defensive tackle Gerald McCoy will have to ramp up pressure on opposing quarterbacks in order to cover for the inexperienced secondary while Verner recovers from his injury.