SAN DIEGO – Taking a cautious approach to football is not in Jason Verrett’s nature. The TCU product developed into a first-round selection for the San Diego Chargers because of the aggressive way he plays the cornerback position in college, making plays all over the field.
But Chargers coach Mike McCoy asked his standout rookie cornerback to wear a red jersey in practice, a signal that a torn labrum in his shoulder has not fully healed after having surgery to repair the issue in March.
“I’m a competitor,” Verrett said. “I feel like they’re putting the red jersey on me for a reason, but that’s not going to stop me from trying to make plays.”
In essence, McCoy is protecting Verrett from himself, asking the TCU product to dial back the tenacity while still getting reps out on the field in order to learn the defense.
“You have to get the reps,” McCoy said. “You’ve got to play the game. And you’ve got to understand what to do. It’s easy to do on a piece of paper. That easy, when you’re sitting in a chair in a nice, cool room and looking at pictures and watching film -- it’s easy to talk through that stuff.
“But then when it’s happening at game speed and you’re flying around, and Philip [Rivers] is changing plays and the formations have changed … You’ve got to do that on the run. You’ve got to that on the fly. And you don’t have a lot of time to react”
McCoy would not say if Verrett would play on Thursday in San Diego’s exhibition opener against Dallas, but it seems unlikely the Chargers would want to trot him out if he’s not fully healthy. For the Chargers, the goal remains getting Verrett to the regular-season opener at Arizona on Sept. 8 fully healthy.
When Verrett has been allowed to participate in full-contact drills he has been as good as advertised. Verrett has shown quickness, fluidity in transitioning in and out of breaks and the ability to anticipate routes during 7-on-7 drills.
And he also has looked impressive during 1-on-1 drills, showing the ability to be physical in press coverage, along with displaying the catchup speed needed to reel in speedy receivers on vertical routes.
“Right now I don’t know where it stands as far as if I’m going to play,” Verrett said, when asked if he would play against Dallas on Thursday. “So my main focus is taking care of my body for the next few days. If I’m not healthy enough for it, then I’ll just get a lot of mental reps out there.”