Most New England Patriots fans thought that cornerback Aqib Talib would be fully healthy after getting four weeks to rest his injured hip. If the game against the Carolina Panthers was any indication, then Talib is not fully healthy.
This game was easily the worst that Talib has had so far in his 2013 campaign. He was burned relentlessly, with most of the damage coming against Steve Smith. Smith burned Talib several times, including a deep ball that went for 42 yards. Sure, Smith has been one of the best of best wide receivers in the NFL over the past decade, but his play has really slipped in 2013. There was no excuse for Talib to get burned by Smith.
Talib’s play before the injury is a reason for fans to be so hard on him. He had been shutting down some of the premier pass catchers in the league, most of whom currently put Smith to shame. Right now, Talib is a No. 1 cornerback and Smith is a No. 2 wide receiver.
What was even worse was that the hip that Talib re-injured had already caused him to miss three games. That was most certainly not a good site to see, as Talib was clearly hindered by the injury before he even went down. Furthermore, Talib is starting to develop a little bit of an “injury-prone” label in addition to his character concerns. Injuries and a prior suspension have now caused the talented cornerback to miss nine of the last 26 regular season games.
This is why Talib should take his time with the injury. Bill Belichick cannot afford to be missing his top cornerback when the games get even more important.
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.