Pro Bowl cornerback Alterraun Verner, who injured his hamstring on the third day of training camp and has missed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ first two preseason games, is expected to return to team drills today and see his first game action of the season on the road against the Buffalo Bills on Saturday.
Signed by the Bucs as a free agent this year after a breakout season in 2013 for the Tennessee Titans, Verner is determined to be 100 percent for the season opener Sept. 7 when the Bucs host the defending NFC South division champion Carolina Panthers.
"The concern is always for the regular season; that's the one that counts,” Verner said on Buccaneers.com. “But you always want to do something in the preseason, especially because this is a new environment, a new team for me, a new scheme. So you definitely want to get some taste of it but it's not going to be at the expense of being detrimental for the regular season. That's going to be the main thing, for all of us to be healthy going into that."
In an article on ESPN.com, Love Smith expressed optimism that Verner, who played his college ball at UCLA and was a fourth-round pick by the Titans in the 2010 NFL Draft, will be ready to play this weekend.
“This is the week that we’re gearing towards,” Smith said. “First off, the guys that line up with the first group, there’s a reason why they’re there…So, for our players, if they’re going to play against Carolina (in the regular season opener), we need to see them right now. If they’re not out there, we’re in a hole a little bit. Alterraun Verner, it’s important that he get out there and starts playing our defense and seeing his role and getting comfortable. That’s why we’re excited about getting him on the football field.”
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