Bucs will go slowly with Alterraun Verner

TAMPA, Fla. -- Alterraun Verner took his first major step in his comeback from a hamstring injury Sunday, but it still could be a while before the cornerback plays in a game.

Verner practiced Sunday for the first time since injuring his hamstring on the third day of training camp. He was limited to individual drills. But it sounds like the Bucs will go slowly with Verner.

"He's been making progress throughout," coach Lovie Smith said. "He's not ready to be thrown out there just full speed ahead. But he is in a position to start getting some individual work. He needs work, too, just like everyone else. Hamstrings, you have to be careful with. You can't have a relapse or anything like that. But it was good to start the process of getting him back on the football field."

It doesn't sound like the Bucs expect Verner to play in Saturday's preseason game with Miami.

"No real time table," Verner said. "We're always gearing for that season opener. The concern is always for the regular season. That's when it counts. But you always want to do something in the preseason, especially since this is a new environment, a new team for me and a new scheme. I definitely want to get a taste of it but it's not going to be at the expense of being detrimental for the regular season."

Verner signed as a free agent from the Tennessee Titans in the offseason. He did get to work in the defensive scheme during the offseason program. Verner said he did his best to stay on top of things while he was out.

"One thing I was able to do these past couple weeks was get a lot of mental reps, just visualizing what they're asking us to do and how I can play in certain situations," Verner said. "Before every snap, I always kind of run through what I'm thinking, what the offense might be doing, down and distance. So I'm getting a lot of mental reps which I feel will help me out coming back, just visualizing what I can do or can't do in this defense."