Patriots’ Talib vows not to let past haunt him
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — From problem child to secondary savior, a lot has changed for Aqib Talib since becoming a member of the Patriots.
Tuesday, as the cornerback locked eyes with former coach Greg Schiano or just saw the pewter, black, orange and red of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Talib must have thought about how much has changed since last season’s trade.
The 27-year-old Talib heads into his sixth season as the grizzled veteran in an ever-struggling defensive backfield. Behind him are his problems, even if this week’s joint practices with the Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium offers a slight reminder of his past.
The teams play a preseason game on Friday in Foxborough.
Talib said this week won’t be a distraction, nor is he out for retribution when he faces the coach that shipped him out of Tampa.
“I couldn’t tell you what I was going through at the time (I was traded). I have moved on. You know what I’m saying? I’m a Patriot now,” Talib told the Herald. “And I’m ready for this good work.”Talent was never a question for this 6-foot-1 cornerback. He was an All-American at Kansas and in 2008 became the first Jayhawks player to be drafted in the first round since 1993 (defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield, San Francisco 49ers).
Talib’s athleticism and cover skills were seen in his four-plus seasons with the Bucs, but so were his off-field issues, which included last year’s four-game league suspension for a violation of the performance-enhancing drugs policy.
In the middle of the ban, he was traded to the Patriots.
It was a quiet offseason for Talib, who said he was traded to the Patriots as a different man.
“(The NFL) definitely grows you up fast,” Talib said. “You go from having no job, in college with no responsibilities, to me, personally, taking care of my whole family. It’s a big jump. A quick jump. (I’ve grown) a bunch. I’ve got two kids. A fiancee. Five years in the league. It’s been a big transition.”
The Pats hope that Talib’s troubles are behind him. Last season, he provided stability in the secondary. He has the ability to cover the opposing team’s best receiver one-on-one, something the Pats had lacked.
Talib’s focus will be on the right things — improving his technique and trying his best to cover Buccaneers receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.
“I’m motivated every day I wake up,” Talib said. “I got a chance to be in the NFL. This is another opportunity to go out and get better.”