The 26-year-old partially tore his ACL in early October, ending his 2016 season before it had really begun. Now the Chargers are looking to ease Verrett back onto the field in the preseason match-up with cross-town rivals the Los Angeles Rams.
Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn told reporters, “He’s chomping at the bit to get out there, so I’ll probably leave him in for a couple series.”
Jason Verrett Return Could Lead to Los Angeles Chargers Resurgence
It is no surprise Verrett is desperate to get back on the field, having missed 24 games over the course of a three-year NFL career.
When healthy, the former first-round pick has looked like a top level cornerback, reaching the Pro Bowl in 2016 following a stellar season.
The Chargers have been cautious with Verrett, slowly working him into training camp and keeping him out of their first two preseason games. But now Verrett is itching to get back on the field.
“It was frustrating to not be able to help the team, even though defensively I felt we did a good job last year,” Verrett said. “But it was something I got a chance to learn from, got a chance to gain a lot of strength and passion for the game, just being at home for 14 weeks watching.”
Combination with Casey Hayward
His return is doubly exciting as Chargers fans are hopeful of seeing a fully-healthy Verrett play opposite fellow Pro Bowler Casey Hayward this season.
With Verrett out, Hayward stepped up last season, leading the league with seven interceptions and going to his first Pro Bowl.
There are few teams in the NFL that possess a pair of elite cornerbacks. However, in the past, the teams that have managed to lock down both sides of the field have presented offensive coordinators with a minefield of challenges.
They have also won games. In 2015, the Denver Broncos fielded Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. on the way to a Super Bowl 50 triumph. The Seattle Seahawks defense, which has consistently been one of the most dominant in the league over the past decade, has always possessed a wealth of talent in the secondary.
Even the constant blueprint for success, Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots, love to field elite pairings on the perimeter. This season is no different, with Stephon Gilmore brought in to compliment Malcolm Butler.
Yet, Chargers fans and the front office believe they are going into the 2017 season with one of the most dynamic cornerback tandems in the NFL, provided both players stay fit.
Battle for the AFC West
In a division that contains the prolific Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs offenses, having a duo capable of shutting down receivers such as Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree could prove crucial in the battle for the AFC West.
Hotly-tipped as being the most competitive division in football, the Chargers believe they may have a cornerback tandem that, combined with the ferocious pass rush of second-year standout Joey Bosa, could push the team over the edge and into the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
If they do, it will go a long way to winning over the Los Angeles fans and bringing championship football back to southern California.