Targeting a rookie: Fact or fiction? Titans will find out Sunday

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 5:12pm

The Denver Broncos will know. The question is how much they’ll throw at rookie cornerback Alterraun Verner when they come to town to face the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at LP Field.

“I’m sure that they’ll test me, but I don’t believe that they’re going to go outside of their scheme,” Verner said. “They’re a very, confident, very good offense … and they should go in like that.

“It’s going to be in the back of their minds, especially the receivers’ but we’ll see what happens when game time comes.”

The general perception among the football public is that quarterbacks attack rookie cornerbacks early and often, particularly in a case like the Titans’ where there is a Pro Bowl player, Cortland Finngegan, at the other cornerback spot.

Verner is set to start in place of second-year man Jason McCourty, who sustained a broken right forearm in Sunday’s victory over the New York Giants.

Few admit, though, that a player truly gets singled out, particularly one with minimal – at best – experience..

“We will just have to wait and see,” Denver quarterback Kyle Orton said. “Our offense is not really directed at a certain player most of the time. We feel like we can get open and throw it on either side of the field.”

Added Titans’ coach Jeff Fisher: “I expect (Orton) to go where his progression takes him.  They’re not an offense that’s going to (attack a particular individual) per se.”

The Broncos (1-2) come into the game with the NFL’s top-ranked passing offense at an average of 350 yards per game. Orton is seventh in passer rating, and his top four receivers – Jabar Gaffney, Eddie Royal, Brandon Lloyd and Demaryius Thomas – are all wide receivers.

Tennessee (2-1) is fifth in the league in pass defense with an average of 178.3 yards per game allowed and fourth in yards per attempt (6.0). McCourty is the only cornerback with an interception.

“It’s their job to know who’s on the field and different things like that,” McCourty said. “I won’t say it’s going to dictate their offense but they definitely know the personnel they’re dealing with.

“As a quarterback, you’re definitely going to throw the ball a guy’s way and see what he can do. So (with Verner) being the new guy out there (Denver) will probably try a little bit.”

McCourty started three games last season as rookie, beginning in Week 4. In all three of those games the opposition passed for better than 300 yards, which was as many times as in the other 13 games of the season.

“At times I felt like they were coming at me,” he said.

“I know that’s got to be in the back of their heads,” Verner said. “They’re looking at it going, ‘Oh, we’ve got a newbie out there.’

“I’m definitely excited. I’m ready for the challenge. I’m going to work my butt off this week to be prepared.”


With Sunday’s game, Fisher will become the eighth coach in NFL history to coach at least 250 teams with at least one franchise.

The other seven to do so are: George Halas (497 games, Chicago), Tom Landry (418, Dallas), Don Shula (392, Miami), Chuck Noll (342, Pittsburgh), Curly Lambeau (334, Green Bay), Steve Owen (268, N.Y. Giants) and Bud Grant (259, Minnesota).

“(Owner Bud Adams) understands this game very well and he has surrounded each one of us with great people in this organization that are all pulling in the same direction,” Fisher said. “… It is nice to be mentioned with those same names.”