Receivers Ready to Face Former Titans CB Alterraun Verner


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans receiver Justin Hunter knows a few things about Buccaneers cornerback Alterraaun Verner.

"(Verner) knows I can run, I know that for sure,'' Hunter said with a smile. "So he's probably not going to let me get behind him."

Verner, who started 45 games for the Titans from 2010-13, will face his old teammates on Sunday when the Titans travel to Tampa to play the Buccaneers. Verner is heading into his second season with the Buccaneers after signing a long-term deal in 2014.

A year ago, Verner intercepted two passes. He returned an interception for a touchdown during the preseason this year.

"He's a physical guy, and he does a really good job of studying the game,'' coach Ken Whisenhunt said of Verner. "He knows where to be and makes good plays on the ball. So I can see why he had a good season the last year he was here and why we tried to re-sign him."

A fourth round draft pick by the Titans in 2010, Verner said he's looking forward to facing his old team. While with the Titans, he worked against current Titans receivers Kendall Wright and Hunter.

"Obviously there are going to be some emotional things going on with me knowing some of the players on the other side, but I'm treating this just like any other game,'' Verner said. "I'm not trying to do more than I usually do because to me that's how trouble ends up happening, when you try to do too much."

Verner is also familiar with Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, who won the Heisman Trophy at Oregon.

"I've been a Mariota fan just because I'm a PAC-12 guy. I've seen Marcus play, and whoop up on the [UCLA] Bruins, unfortunately, so many times,'' Verner said. "I've always been a fan of his, one for his humility and people I know who have been around him. And obviously he's a great talent, winning the Heisman Trophy. Just seeing the film this [pre]season, I think he's been doing really, really good. He's been making some really good throws, he's been getting it to different receivers. He just seems so poised and so confident out there, and that's always surprising to see from any rookie at any position. He really looked like a vet, and I kind of expected that from him. I think he's going to be a good player and I look forward to going against him."

Verner offered praised for Wright and Hunter, along with tight end Delanie Walker. On Sunday, he'll also square off against veteran Harry Douglas and rookie Dorial Green-Beckham, who'll be playing in his first NFL game.

Titans cornerback Jason McCourty has been talking to Verner all week. The two were teammates for four seasons, and remain close friends.

McCourty's not sure familiarity with help either side in the matchup on Sunday.

"Really, it's just about making plays,'' McCourty said. "Obviously Vern had a chance to go up against guys like Justin and Kendall every day in practice, but we are not running the same offense, it's a different coordinator, and he is not running the same defense. Obviously there is some familiarity when you are getting up there pressing and all that stuff, but it just comes down to making plays.

"They will be out there on the field and there will be jump balls and there will be contested catches and throws and it will just be a matter of who comes away with the ball."


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