About six weeks ago, Alterraun Verner was having to fight tooth and nail just to stay in the starting lineup.
The Titans, after all, tried to give away his starting spot to Tommie Campbell, even going so far as to have Verner work as a backup safety, in case he wasn't Tennessee's starting right cornerback.
That all seems like a long time ago now, especially after Verner, who was Johnny-on-the-spot again Sunday had two more interceptions and a fumble recovery in the first half of the Titans' 38-13 trouncing of the New York Jets.
Those takeaways give Verner four interceptions and two fumble recoveries for the season in just four games. The training camp competition that wasn't settled until the week before the regular season seems like a distance memory now. But Verner hasn't forgotten.
“That's what competition does,” Verner said. “It brings out the best in you because you have to be on top of your game, especially the way Tommie was playing. Tommie was jelling. Tommie was playing well. Coty Sensabaugh was playing well.”
Verner said he knew that the Titans would be looking to make changes after going 6-10 in 2012, and that he would have to battle to retain his starting spot.
“When you go 6-10, something has to change. Something has to get better,” he said. “I looked at it in myself, to try to get better myself. That's my whole mentality. If Tommie beats me out, I'm still going to have to put up a fight.”
All three of Verner's takeaways Sunday led to Tennessee touchdown passes by Jake Locker. He intercepted rookie Geno Smith's first pass of the day, and the Titans turned it into a 1-yard TD to Delanie Walker and a 7-0 lead.
Verner also came up with a Smith fumble that teammate Zach Brown forced, and the Titans converted that into a four-yard touchdown pass to Nate Washington.
And finally, just before the half ended, Verner intercepted Smith again, and the Titans cashed in with Justin Hunter's touchdown grab with two seconds to play in the half.