The New England Patriots are currently preparing for an important matchup against their most hated divisional opponent, the New York Jets. Unfortunately, the team will have to get by without their best defensive player and shutdown cornerback, Aqib Talib. The good news for the Patriots is the Jets have very few offensive skill players worthy of being covered by a shutdown cornerback.
In fact, Santonio Holmes, the one player besides Stephen Hill that might have drawn special defensive attention, is out this week with a nagging hamsting injury.
Additionally, Clyde Gates is another player with explosive ability for the Jets, but has been placed on Injured Reserve with a shoulder injury, leaving Jeremy Kerley as the second receiving option behind Hill.
Going back to Talib, while his absence is clearly a huge loss for the Patriots’ defense given what he has done this year, however, holding him out this week is not the worst thing for the team. In fact, they are smart to do so. It would be too risky to play him now since his hip issues have reared their ugly head once again.
The team is smart to wait for him to be as close to 100 percent as possible before bringing him back into the fold. The team will be fine covering Hill with Alfonzo Dennard and possibly a safety over the top for the majority of the game. This would then leave the rest of the Patriots’ secondary left to cover Kerley, David Nelson and Jeff Cumberland. The Jets’ running backs would then likely be assigned to the Pats’ linebackers.
Keeping Talib out for this game is the best choice for his long-term health. The last thing the Patriots want is for him to further aggravate his hip, thereby missing other crucial games in the future. By playing it safe, the team could have him back as early as Week 8 since he was ruled out at the last minute this week.