Aqib Talib is a cornerback who has always been long in talent, but short in character. He was a first-round pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2008 NFL Draft, mostly because Talib is a physical cornerback who stands at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds. And his play with the Bucs was like that of a first-round pick at times, but his consistency was always a question. Most of his consistency questions arose because Talib was often injured, and was suspended in 2012. That was when Bill Belichick swooped in and traded for the talented cornerback.
Belichick hasn’t looked back since. Talib has played extremely well in his time with the New England Patriots, latching on to the opposing team’s No. 1 wide receiver almost every game. His most impressive performance in 2012 was against the Houston Texans, in which Talib shut down Texans’ star wide receiver Andre Johnson. Unfortunately, Talib got injured in 2013 AFC Championship Game against the Baltimore Ravens. Once Talib went down in that game, it was clear that the Patriots’ cornerbacks were overmatched in coverage. Talib’s presence was dearly missed.
Now we fast forward to the 2013 regular season. Talib was re-signed to a one-year, $5 million contract. NFL general managers refused to give Talib a long-term contract mostly because of his character concerns. Their loss may be Belichick’s gain, as Talib is a legitimate No. 1 cornerback. He has proven that so far with great performances against the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets. Against the Bills, Talib only allowed a touchdown pass because he thought that he had safety help over the top. And against the Jets, he recorded two interceptions while shutting down opposing Jets’ wide receivers.
It’s early, but Talib is showing the same ability to blanket opposing receivers much like he has in his career. If he can stay healthy and out of trouble, Talib can stabilize the No. 1 cornerback spot for the Patriots. In a season in which the New England defense will be counted on a lot more, Talib’s presence will be huge.
Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.