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Alterraun Verner doesn't act like a rookie. Nor does he play like one.
Whether the Titans want to admit it or not, it is clear after two preseason games, Verner has closed whatever gap there might have been between him and the starting cornerback position opposite Cortland Finnegan.
He is still in a competition with Jason McCourty, Ryan Mouton and Tye Hill, but Verner is putting himself in position to make a strong case for the starting spot.
Whether by design from from the Cardinals or not, the Arizona offense mostly stayed away from Verner's side of the field in the first half, and when the opportunity to make a play did some his way, he was in position to prevent a completion to Stephen Williams in the end zone.
“I'm definitely was surprised by it. I thought they would definitely be coming after me,” Verner said, adding that there were still areas he thought he could have done better at.
Verner, the rookie fourth-rounder from UCLA, doesn't carry himself like a scared rookie. Instead, he has displayed the moxie of a veteran in his first preseason start, and has made more than his share of plays on the practice field too.
“The veteran leadership and the coaching staff, they allow me to play comfortable out there, where I'm not afraid to do things. I can just be a football player,” Verner said. “I love that feeling, and the vets always say they've got my back. So I just have fun out there.”
That attitude has been noticed by teammates, and more importantly, coaches.
“:That's the thing about Vern. That's why he's in the mix. It's not too big for him,” defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil said. “He doesn't have the big eyes on the sideline. He's very calm and collected and confident.”
Fellow rookie Damian Williams, who played at Southern Cal, has known Verner since they were crosstown rivals in Los Angeles.
“He played as a true freshman in a lot of big games. I think a lot of people have yet to see the best of him. I go against him every day. He's really patient, really quick and he's got great hands,” Williams said.
TitanInsider: Any closer and you'd be in the huddle.
Great interviews guys, great work tonight in general. And I agree with the Verner situation.
I remember watching plenty of his highlights and some gametape that Verner posted of himself on Vimeo. You can tell that he's something special. I had a feeling that he might push for the starting spot even as a rookie. I'm not sure if Leinart was mostly targeting McCourty because he was left handed, but regardless, Verner did well in coverage and never took himself out of a play.
This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by Tron Carter on 8/25/2010 at 1:15 PM
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