Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Could New System Revitalize Verner?

Could Mike Smith's defense bring Alterraun Verner back to Pro Bowl form?

Since joining the Buccaneers as a free agent in 2014, Alterraun Verner has played an interesting role.

When he arrived in Tampa Bay, he was coming off of a Pro Bowl season with the Titans after intercepting five passes in 2013. It was the first trip to the Pro Bowl in his career. Verner was one of the Buccaneers' prized free agents the spring heading into 2014 and stepped in to start 14 games and intercept two passes that season.

The best photos from the first week of OTAs.

Last year, though, Verner saw his role change as the season progressed. He began the year as one of the team's starters but finished the season playing almost exclusively in the slot. The Bucs experimented with several different sets of corners on the outside with Verner manning the inside.

With a new defensive coordinator in town, Verner will be learning his third defense in as many years. But he's reunited with Brett Maxie, who was his position coach in Tennessee, and that could help ease the transition. Could the new scheme propel him back into the starting lineup? Or back to the level he was playing at when he arrived? So far – it seems like it could.

Throughout spring workouts, Verner has regained his starting position on the outside, working alongside Brent Grimes. Johnthan Banks, who worked with the first-team at the start of last year, has been working as the third corner on the outside and Jude Adjei-Barimah has spent a good amount of time in the slot.

A look at the Buccaneers' cornerback during spring workouts.

Throughout those practices, and working against two standouts in their own right in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, Verner has looked sharp. In the three OTAs open to the media, he's gotten his hands on a few passes and has been with the ones each day. His responsibilities have surely changed with the new system, and he seems to be comfortable very early in the learning process.

While Verner has been a first-teamer through the spring, it will be interesting to see whether or not rookie Vernon Hargreaves' progress changes his standing. Head coach Dirk Koetter has spoken about using Hargreaves in the slot, but the Bucs have been giving him looks on the outside, too.

A secondary with Verner and Grimes, both former Pro Bowlers, on the outside and Hargreaves, a first-round draft pick considered to be the best cover corner in this year's draft class, in the slot, the Buccaneers should expect to be much improved in the defensive backfield. But nobody will know for sure until pads come on for training camp.

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