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Archive for Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tampa Bay welcomes in Talib

Former KU cornerback says past troubles behind him

April 29, 2008

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib smiles at his introductory news conference. Talib, a former Kansas University All-American, met the media Monday in Tampa, Fla.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib smiles at his introductory news conference. Talib, a former Kansas University All-American, met the media Monday in Tampa, Fla.

— Aqib Talib fielded question after question. When he finally encountered one he couldn't answer, the first-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got some unexpected assistance.

"My first name means the last to come. I'm the youngest out of four kids. My last name, I don't know," the ballhawking cornerback said Monday before being joined on a podium by Bucs coach Jon Gruden.

The two held up a No. 1 jersey with Talib's name on the back.

"That name," Gruden said, "means good corner, I hope."

The room erupted in laughter, but Gruden was only half joking.

The Bucs selected a cornerback in the opening round for the first time since 1986, bypassing an opportunity to upgrade the offense with the coach's choice of any receiver in the draft. They're counting on Talib to prove they made the right call.

The starting cornerbacks for much of the past decade have been Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly. Barber turned 33 three weeks ago, while the 32-year-old Kelly skipped town this winter as a free agent.

Talib, who Gruden describes as a "dynamic playmaker" at Kansas, will compete with Phillip Buchanon for the starting left cornerback job and play a key role in nickel situations.

The ultra-confident Talib is eager to learn the defense and contribute any he can.

He looks forward to learning from Barber and others, like linebacker Derrick Brooks and safeties Jermaine Phillips and Tanard Jackson, on a defense that's ranked among the league's best 10 of the past 11 seasons.

On his first visit to the team's training complex since being selected No. 20 overall, Talib also reiterated he doesn't believe Tampa Bay took a risk by drafting someone who reportedly acknowledged to testing positive for marijuana three times in college.

"All I can say is my actions speak louder than words. I'm pretty sure that maybe after this season when nothing happens, it'll die down. I'm not really worried about it," he said. "I made a bad reputation at Kansas from doing that. I'm not dumb enough to do it again. I learned from my mistakes."

The Bucs are confident the trouble is behind him.

"It is not only our discussions with him, which were extremely positive ... it is his coaches that stand by him 100 percent," general manager Bruce Allen said. "It is also his teammates. ... Everyone spoke very highly of him."

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